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MARTHA MINUJIN BY SHUNK/KENDER 

TEXT BY JULIAN FIRTH

I was very irritated by this show and found myself shrugging through the first two thirds of it as the beetle-black frames were so dominant, and I was muttering ‘this is a walk-in catalogue’ as I scuttered through the huge empty grey rooms.

As you point out in your commentary the Shunk/Kender dilemma emerges… it wasn’t until the artist as self iconograph re-asserted itself, Valie Export, Carole Schneemann, where the frame becomes so much less of an issue, and the performance is pre-eminent, that I became re-engaged. I liked very much your words about the Charles Ray plank piece, and whether you meant to or not I don’t know, but the way you read Simon Bakers facile list of considerations when regarding this picture, brought clearly into focus the concept that a central purpose of this show is to talk up the commercial value of the works of Harry Shunk and Janos Kender…

All that be as it may, I shall go back and take a slightly less withering look at the exhibition as a whole, but the flaws of curation and presentation do stand out. Odd really, considering how well the Tate presented the Klein/Moriyama exhib. recently, and indeed their Conflict/Time/Photography exhibition last year, where their wasn’t this product placement response to the Photograph as Art that so riddles this present show.

THIS IS MY VIDEO REVIEW ON ‘PERFORMING FOR THE CAMERA’ AT TATE MODERN CURRENTLY UNTIL END OF JUNE