I wrote about Mark Leckey in my paper, here is an article from Jonathan Jones on latest show by Leckey.
Mark Leckey's art creates noise without meaning
The Turner prize-winner's Serpentine Gallery show sounds great on paper but is full of lumbering inanities
Up the garden path ... Mark Leckey's GreenScreenRefrigeratorAction at the Serpentine Gallery. Photograph: Ray Tang/Rex Features
Mark Leckey's exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery crept up on me unawares. In the lobby-like entrance area, posters and a fragmentary video hover delicately between meaning and meaninglessness while snatches of pounding music and robotic voices creep in from other rooms. Hesitant, a bit confused, I took it in like the noise outside a club, or popcorn scattered on a cinema carpet. Only when I entered a gallery overlooking Kensington Gardens where electronic devices chatter inanely in high-pitched voices against a painted green background did the reality dawn on me of just how terrible an exhibition I had stumbled into.
Leckey won a Turner prize in 2008, which goes to show you should never take these awards too seriously. His kind of art, studded with dense cultural references, appeals to a certain kind of academically minded curator because it seems intelligent and subversive – until you look at it. On paper, Leckey is a genius, a pop cultural messiah. He explores the anthropology of clubbing, the ironies of consumerism – both key in his (sort of) best work here, Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore – and the disembodied mystique of digital technology. He is a Marxist DJ quoting philosophy while he stacks up sound-systems to create aural sculptures.
Like I said – great on paper. But art happens in physical space, in the realm of bodies also known as the human world. In that world, Leckey does not get his ideas across. His messing about with speakers and screens does not come across as cool, but laboured and empty. The installation GreenScreenRefrigeratorAction with its bonkers talking gadgets and walls tediously coloured to reflect the park outside (culture v nature, geddit?) is one of the worst works of art I have ever seen in a serious gallery. It means nothing; it just makes noise to create the fiction of meaning. It is pompous and clumsy and utterly miserable for no good reason.
Does that sound like a certain British politician? Mark Leckey is the Gordon Brown of art – always missing his target and always seeming sorry for himself. There is a complete lack of fit between Leckey's vaunted interest in dance music and youth culture and the eerie joylessness of his art. Nothing, however, prepares you for the stupidity and arrogance of the central exhibit, BigBoxStatueAction, in which he has the insolence to juxtapose one of his own speaker-stack sculptures with a bronze abstract statue by Henry Moore.
Now, I am a long way from being Henry Moore's biggest fan. In fact, I think the current fashion for reclaiming him as a great modern artist is a bit silly. But great or otherwise, Moore certainly was an artist, and next to him Leckey scarcely looks like one at all. He looks more like a pedantic scholar of dead theories of culture, who belongs not in an art gallery but rather in some university library poring over 1980s copies of The Face.
He has scribbled a quote from the Victorian critic Walter Pater on the back of the speaker stack, calling on us to live always in a hard, gemlike flame of ecstasy. But I have rarely felt so far from that flame as I did among his lumbering inanities.