Scott Redford

In his new series of works, presented at Fireworks Gallery, Scott Redford voices his ongoing ruminations about the misgivings of ‘contemporary art’. For the Brisbane-based artist, this ubiquitous phrase denotes a style or genre of art trafficking in clichés – rather than the aspecific, universal non-genre that it proclaims to be – which will inevitably come to an end like any other historical art movement.

Redford’s critical commentary about contemporary art, from both an Australian and International perspective, draws from over thirty years of art practice. Informing his ideas are various texts by writers such as Boris Groys, Suhail Malik, Occupy Art, Elaine Sturtevant, Hito Steyrl and many others. Particularly concerned with the role of government in art, Redford examines the livelihood of art in the current political climate and laments a lack of any real zeitgeist. At times his passionate assessments can appear brash and disturbing, but this is precisely the point; to catch us off guard and confront us with our own complicity in the nebulous and problematic phenomenon we call ‘contemporary art’.

Drawing from his ideas about Post Contemporary Art, Redford’s self-reflexive body of work harnesses the cinematic trope of Mission Impossible. ‘Contemporary Art insists on appearing pluralist, democratic and inclusionary BUT in practice this proves an illusion’, reflects the artist, ‘the myth of Absolute Inclusion is in reality a cruel hoax; a Mission Impossible.’ In his screen printed and acrylic series ‘Tom with side bar’, the word ‘burnrate’ is merged with the Shutterstock logo and placed over a silhouette of Tom Cruise in an attempt to position the painting beyond the world of ‘fine art’. Redford uses this term ‘burnrate’ – which references the rate at which a new company spends its initial capital, referring to negative cash flow – as an analogy for the predicament of contemporary art; ‘aesthetic capital’ is becoming exhausted. In the internet age all images, histories, concepts, and even ‘fake news’ are available at all times, at the touch of a button. The saturation of images and culture is more important than the physical objects of contemporary art, which are relegated to mere props. This critique of our mass-image age is articulated on the side bars of each work.  One reads, ‘MORE THAN 3.7 BILLION HUMANS USE THE INTERNET. SO IF EACH OF THOSE PEOPLE ONLY POSTS ONE IMAGE A DAY ONTO SOCIAL MEDIA THE WORLD’S IMAGES EXPANDS EXPONENTIALLY…OBVIOUSLY WE ARE CALLING THE WRONG PEOPLE ARTISTS. ALL ART IS JPEG’; while another work proclaims, ‘THE NEW ARTWORK LOOKS REALLY NEW AND ALIVE ONLY IF IT RESEMBLES, IN A CERTAIN SENSE, EVERY ORDINARY, PROFANE THING, OR EVERY OTHER ORDINARY PRODUCT OF POPULAR CULTURE OR PRIOR ARTWORK.’

Though Redford is highly critical of the contemporary art scene, he nonetheless simultaneously celebrates the democratisation of images and culture – citing an enthusiasm for social media image manifestations such as memes.

Scott Redford
10 May – 15 June 2019
Fireworks Gallery, Brisbane


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