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editors review
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new comtemporaries 2003

They’re new and they’re contemporary.

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The annual New Contemporaries show is as good a barometer of the concerns of the newest graduates to emerge from our art colleges as you are likely to get, and this year’s panel have done a particularly good job with a well-balanced mix of themes and mediums.

There are the obligatory intriguing but slightly unfathomable video works. There are magical photos of German woodlands and inkjet prints that question celebrity and identity. There are photo-real paintings of ceramic ornaments and expressive paintings of pink fleshiness. There are obsessive pencil drawings, corrugated cardboard sculptures and a soundwork that mimics birdsong. And then there’s Mark McGowan.

Rivalling David Blaine on the crazy stunt front, McGowan has rolled across London in support of office cleaners, hurled a pensioner from a cardboard rocket to highlight the treatment of old people and pushed a monkey nut with his nose from New Cross to Downing Street to try and have his student debt waived.

McGowan’s decision to exhibit the print and TV news coverage that his antics provoked certainly provides food for thought about the relationship between contemporary art and the media. But as to whether either the events or their documentation are art – you’ll have to make up your own mind. Helen Sumpter 26 September 03

Bloomberg New Contemporaries is at 14 Wharf Road, London N1, until 24 October 03. Tel 0845 120 7550.

useful link: new contemporaries 2003

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