Constellation of Black Holes
Pēteris Bankovskis, Art Critic
Edgars Gluhovs. Good Cop / Bad Cop
01.10.–26.10.2009. Gallery Supernova
Edgars Gluhovs was born in Riga in 1980. He studied art and photography at Bournemouth Arts University College in the UK, and currently lives and works in Zurich.

The exhibition Good Cop / Bad Cop in the Riga gallery Supernova displayed reproductions of advertising posters (or perhaps originals), while on a table viewers could observe, under glass, an open copy of the Bret Easton Ellis novel American Psycho, a hat and a few texts and images. On the windowsill beside the wooden slats rested a tray made of silver (no, more likely cupronickel,) with the following message engraved on its shiny surface: All my favourite singers couldn’t sing. A list of persons was stuck on the wall in block letters: BIG BANG, BEAU BRUMMEL, BELA BARTOK, BERTOLD BRECHT, BENJAMIN BRITTEN, BENNO BESSON, BLACK BETTY, BRIGITTE BARDOT, BAZON BROCK, BUGS BUNNY, BRIGID BERLIN, BLIXA BARGELD.

The exhibition, as is so often the case with graduates of postconceptualist, or more likely post-post-conceptualist thinking and world view art schools is convenient for decoding and intertextuality exercises. Each one of those mentioned in the list brings up a wide network of associations, colouring it with one ideology or another. Just from reading the inscription on the tray, you want to hum ‘We are Real’ from the Silver Jews album American Water. Or perhaps join Dave Berman singing the melodeclamation ‘Buckingham Rabbit’ in his croaky voice. For hasn’t Silver Jews leader Berman become a favourite “failed singer” on the internet? And of course, ‘Buckingham Rabbit’ ties in well with the old cartoon character Bugs Bunny, also on the list. In this way you can unravel all sorts of things, mining into hints and references. If you get the chance, you can also read Edgars Gluhovs’ conversation with Egija Inzule, to be obtained at the exhibition but not published elsewhere, which is in the same way abundant with all kinds of references (possibly also to the artist’s style of dress and “deportment.”). Oh yes, more about Dave Berman. I read in some blog or chat site that Dave’s Dad is an ultra-right wing conservative, and now that America is ruled by a newly-honoured Nobel Peace Prize winner, Dad is the bad guy and casts his shadow on his son as well. So much about the possible fluctuations which justify, in all sorts of ways, the “classic” investigation method inherent in Gluhov’s exhibition title.

I was pleased to see the use of a feature which was once a favourite of conceptualists in the 1970s – the list on the wall. I liked the fact that the first “person” on it was Big Bang (the great explosion which apparently started off the Universe – and all of us too – which is described in modernday physics). If Big Bang is included amongst the persons, it cannot be excluded that Gluhovs is more of a Creationist than a Darwinist, and that, therefore, he may possess common sense. I say “cannot be excluded”, as it is only possible to speak about common sense amongst people today, especially socalled artists, as a theoretical possibility because our (“humanity” of the early 21st century) everyday actions, created artefacts and relationships more often than not do not testify to sense, let alone common sense.

Another thing I liked was that the list is concluded with Blixa Bargeld. Hans Christian Emmerich, who hides behind this pseudonym, chimes nicely with another storytelling master – Hans Christian Andersen. And some lines from the Einstürzende Neubauten song ‘Sabrina’ harmonise just as nicely with the Big Bang at the dawn of the Universe. This verse, for instance:

It is as black as malevic’s square
The cold furnace in which we stare
A high pitch on a future scale
It is a starless winternight’s tale
It suits you well

Here we have, in Malevic’s person, a hint of art as an endless emptiness, a black hole (of hell?), if you like. This is a hole which is the receptacle of everything we are accustomed to: everything created by humans and which is considered to be useful, essential, valuable, profitable, interesting, inviting, enticing or pleasurable. Does hell currently contain the honorable Richard John Bingham, 7th Earl of Lucan, who gazes from an image in Gluhovs’ exhibition, as elegantly as Clark Gable himself, or maybe Cary Grant? And where is his children’s nanny to be found?

Of course, the elegant murderer leads us to remember the mood and (also) elegance of the book by Bret Easton Ellis, lying open nearby. But not only. The besuited image and posture of another personality in the exhibition – Fred Hughes – working on Andy Warhol’s team, reminds laggards (in the memorial articles in Interview) of Hollywood beauties. Glamorama also appears to be an everpresent book in the labyrinths of Gluhovs’ thoughts, which for me, perhaps paradoxically, has associations with those kitschy frames of the advertising posters.

I saw Edgars Gluhovs himself in a LETA news agency photo – also in a suit and tie, also as the ideological heir to Beau Brummel, Alan Flusser and similar. It would be interesting to find out how Leadbelly’s original version of ‘Black Betty’ (also on the list) sounds to him – so actively posing. As a challenge? Or perhaps only as an appropriated ready-made? As many exhibitions do today, this one asks questions about the artist. Is creativity an essential part of the human condition? Do the approaches adopted by schools to develop a person’s “creative freedom” “develop” or “degenerate” the person? Does that which is understood by the term “art” have a meaningful, broader communicative content, or is it just a skeleton and pedestal constructed for the auto-consumption and identification of a certain individual’s ego?

Rather than giving an answer, Good Cop / Bad Cop allows that there is a wide range of “and/or”. Possibly it may best be compared to the version of ‘Black Betty’ available on the YouTube video with Johnny Depp – “a thousand ways”. Possibly the exhibition may be about that part of socalled modern society who have a problematic relationship with their identity. The ramblings of various liberal intellectuals have been confusing people long enough for a constellation of black holes to have formed in their heads. It seems that the first thing to be lost in this constellation is the person as a spiritual substance. All that is left over is merely a biological spectre. 

/Translator into English: Filips Birzulis/

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