News Update
24. Januar 2000
Evening Standard
Godfrey Barker
The dying art of suicide Damien Hirst's guide to blowing your head off at Art2000 was a metaphor for the whole exhibition
But stand all this beside an Antony Gormley cage figure (White Cube) or the giant paintings of stillborn babies by Gottfried Helnwein, an artist revered in Germany and Austria (Robert Sandelson).
CLOSE to the door at Art 2000's vast sprawl over Islington last week was a newly issued 30-second video by Damien Hirst on how to kill yourself, Do It (White Cube Gallery). "I love life," he announces. "I think suicide is the perfect way to deal with life this is where I decide it ends."
The boy brandishes a revolver, then places it between his eyes, against his temple, inside his mouth and pulls the trigger. These, however, are the ways not to do it, because you variously shoot off your eyes or your face or shoot under your brain and blow off your spine, but you still survive, blind or paralysed or worse.
Damien recommends putting the butt on the top of your head and shooting downwards as the only safe method (price, 20,000).
Someone, this year, has done just this to Art2000. It has lost its head.
It doesn't know any more whether it is a showcase for important Contemporary Art fresh from the studios (which is what we need, but there was almost nothing important to be seen) or just one more 20th century British Art Fair.
As for the artists, there are signs of crisis. Neurotic Realism has given way to Absolute Futility as the cult subject.
Fine - 1999 was the fin de sie-cle and "what the hell" the mood of the times; but as 19th century Nihilists discovered, it is not easy to lift reflections on the pointlessness of existence, however deeply felt, out of the bog of morbid self-examination.
At Art2000, few succeeded.
One can admire the 1,500-plus 10-second photographs by Darren Almond (White Cube) of an empty office room seen across 24 hours, day changing into night changing back into day, a clock documenting the passing moments.
Hopelessness, futility, a sense of time standing still are strongly conveyed.
Few other artists, however, came up with objects of remotely equal subtlety and visual intelligence.
Still, in the absence of grand gestures, this was a year to take in smaller pleasures. Upstairs in the ineptly named ArtStart section (the innovative stuff), two dozen quiet points were made by artists whose only sin was elegance. That means women, of course. No crowd- pleasing museum will ever want Jane Mulfinger's heap of white feathers forever blown into a corner by two fans (Dominic Berning Gallery) or Siobhan Hapaska's marvellous travelling railway of Revolving Tumbleweed (Ker-lin Gallery), but both had visual poetry; and there was perhaps nothing more lonely and eloquent than the cityless map of the USA by Kathy Prendergast, she of the human anthill drawings, in which all known towns and rivers were wiped out by computer and replaced by 3,000 creeks and gulches whose names began with "lost" (Ker-lin, 3,000, edition of 25).
In video, there was a silent shout too from Anna-Katrina Dolven, a 30-minute loop of tossing blonde hair to moans of He Loves Me He Loves Me Not (Anthony Wilkinson Gallery) and some Licking loops by a pink Plasticine doll devised by Liane Lang (3,000 at Jenny Todd). But it was all too pretty to be powerful. There is, after all, something heroically laddish and assertive about the YBA's highest achievers, most of all Tracey Emin and Sarah Lucas.
There was a lovely dry wit, if feeble drawing, to Colin Lowe's daubs at Paul Stolper Gallery with titles like "We Started Having Old- Fashioned Telephone Sex but You Fell Asleep and I Nearly Froze to Death in the Phone Box" (350 and upwards).
There was sugar on the face of oblivion, too, in Robert Dawson's gorgeous 300-plus computer-glazed ceramic tiles of a road accident in a 1974 vampire movie (Jibby Beane Gallery).
But stand all this beside an Antony Gormley cage figure (White Cube) or the giant paintings of stillborn babies by Got-tfried Helnwein, an artist revered in Germany and Austria (Robert Sandelson).

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