It comes as too cynical to go to a show called ‘Maximum Irony! Maximum Sincerity!’ financed by a family that used to trade weapons in Israel, like the Zabludowicz. The show is composed of seven film installations by artist Andy Holden where he wanders into the minds, the haunts – and the bedrooms – of MI!MS (Maximum Irony! Maximum Sincerity), an artistic movement he founded in 1999 and four chums from Bedford.
The work is essentially a feature length film sliced into several parts. Young actors reenact the original MI!MS members recalling the movement. They talk about the horror of discovering that their most deeply felt emotions have universality, beat out the grammatical details of their manifesto (yes, there’s a manifesto, signed in 2003), confuse Hegel with Marx and never swear once. But there’s no mocking undertone. This is supposed to be a celebration of youth, with a rather limited awareness of what ‘youth’ itself might mean. I wonder what makes these youth think that art is just to register their doubts. That is not art, that everyday life. Does doubting itself make me young? In fact, not long ago, I heard the young Argentine film maker Jazmin Lopez justify her short film in the same terms. She said: ‘I woke up one day and said, what I am going to do with my life?’’. So her film is a girl walking in the woods without doing or thinking anything.
It is as if the standards for depth in life and for truth have been lowered to the point where it is rather difficult for people like the Zabludowicz and their curators to distinguish between meaningfulness and meaninglessness. And so it goes with this ‘installation’ that surrounds you with the sound, sculpture, performance and original works of MI!MS, that are equivalent to nothing or visual representations of interjections and exhalations.
Charmian Grifin from Time Out calls all this ‘postmodern’ irony. I thought that postmodernity in itself was ironic. What ‘postmodern’ irony means then? Ironically ironic. Where does it stop? So Griffin concludes: ‘Yet, in the end this show is an exposure of earnestness and the pretences of former selves so bloodily open-hearted that it cannot fail to move. Leave cynicism at the door, perhaps you’ll forget to pick it up on the way out’. Griffin, do you think the Zabludowicz could ever do that? This show is a big fat joke, if you ask me.
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