Friday, 26 October 2007

The Saints, Paul Pfeiffer and Artangel - Sophie Risner 26.10.07

The Saints,

Wembley Park.

Paul Pfeiffer.

Comissioned by Artangel.

You can navigate the narrative of this work by using several well known paradigms. The first is of art work that deals with a sociological experience as a form to ponder on deeper questions of what we as a society deem important. The second the trope of a large scale installation piece that unfolds to become many different layers of readable qualities. The Third a chance intervention of an artistic practice in an area that lacks the gentrification of artisan activity and finally the wonderful elements of a performance narrative that are the hegemonic trope that keeps this piece pumping.

I for one can see how all of these key themes come out to play in Pfeiffers most recent foray into the art world. It's a bold statement and easy to misinterpret the value of a show that demands you to travel beyond the comfort of zones 1 and 2. For those well versed in the grammar of an Artangel production this has all of the aforementioned tropes that very often find their way into the world of Artangel, but by saying this we beg the question how much is the artists vision and how much is this just another moment within the well rehearsed narrative of Artangel art production.

The work screams a silence that begs you to navigate a large wholesale container with undue precaution. It leaves you isolated and unbearably visable as you edge around the room in a romantic dance almost mimicking the wave and play of the edited footballer in the small screen film at the end of the room. By drawing your attention to the end of the room we navigate a wall that leads us to the documentation and essence of this triumphant sound scape behind. I was awestruck and yet bemused at this choice. In comparison with other London shows Artangel have chosen to lobby their weight on the economic value of Wembley arena Vs it's sociological and patriotic value. It's not an attack per se at the multi million pound over spend but it's pulling at the strings of our conscience to beg questions over its creation. By using art it also forecasts a tragic shadow over the 2012 Olympics as the art world will inevitably suffer. Is this an ironic statement or the curtain call of a already doomed future which sees the diminishing importance of art as a tool of social progression?

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