Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Andrew Munks and his multi-coloured Plop Shop.

Some artists are just taking the piss. Catch a fish. Put a little hat on it. Call it Plop Shop. Stick it in a gallery. Will this do?

Well, no, not really. For a start it seems a bit cruel. I know it may seem ludicrous to care about fish at a time when a lot of people in the world can't even be trusted to care about other people but still, there's catching a fish so you can eat it and there's catching a fish to put a little hat on it.

So why has Andrew Munks put a wig on a tench, a cap on a chub, and a nurse's hat on a rudd? It's certainly not clear from the grainy photos posted up on the walls so, thankfully, the Zabludowicz (a charming little gallery in Kentish Town) have provided a kind of factsheet for visitors which contains an interview with the man responsible.

Tench in a Wig (2017)

Rudd in Nurse's Hat (2017)
Unfortunately said interview doesn't make very clear why Munks has chosen to do this. He talks about how he decides which headwear suits which fish (yes, really), how he doesn't like to get bored (though he doesn't seem to mind boring his audience), and his distrust of nostalgia (fair enough) but at no point does he address the burning question. Why catch a fish, put a little hat on it, and take a photo of it and call it Plop Shop?
There's a framed C-type print of the River Roding that flows from Essex down to Barking Creek and then in to the Thames. Munks is a keen angler (as we've seen) so it can be assumed that the Roding is a place he goes fishing. He says "sitting by lakes and rivers is a very worthwhile thing to do whether you are fishing or not". I'd agree with him on that up to a point. I'd say if you're not fishing (especially for fish to put little hats on) it's more worthwhile. Why can't people enjoy some peace and quiet without having to turn into some kind of activity?
The photo of Roding is nice though. Well, it's ok. It's probably no better than any photograph of the Roding that anyone else could take. It's certainly not worth a trip to a gallery to see it.

River Roding (2017)
On the opposite side of the room there's a selection of old fashioned dialled telephones laid out on a wooden bench. Initially I assumed these just to be something to look at, part of the 'art', but further investigation revealed that by picking up the receiver I'd be able to hear some music Munks had made, titles included Ibiza EU, Window Shopping, and Funky, as well as extracts from the 1979 BBC TV show The Country and The City:A Film with Raymond Williams.
In keeping with the general disappointment of the exhibition these extracts weren't playing so instead I listened to Munks' music. It was as dull and uninspired as his art. I was glad when it ended. I was glad when I left the exhibition. It was the warmest, sunniest day of the year so far and in a few minutes I'd be perched atop Primrose Hill taking in views and breathtaking beauty way more awesome and life affirming than Munks' dingy little corner of an otherwise rather pleasant art space.

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