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Last Updated: Monday, 4 August, 2003, 15:30 GMT 16:30 UK
Lionheart
Lionheart

Newsnight Review discussed Newsnight Review discussed Lionheart by Mike Nelson is at the New Art Gallery in Walsall.

(Edited highlights of the panel's review taken from the teletext subtitles that are generated live for Newsnight Review.)

TIM MARLOW:
Does this take you back into a child-like state or an adult fit of indignation.

PETER HITCHENS:
I was trying hard not to laugh. In fact not that hard. If there was more people there I would have laughed. Its literally a heap of junk. Bottle tops, fag ends. Comic books.

TIM MARLOW:
Could you make no narrative connections?

PETER HITCHENS:
What objective standard can you judge this by and say this is art. Its simply assembled to see if anybody will laugh. If they don't, then maybe it will catch the fashion and people will write reverential things about it. As I walked around it, peering at it to see if I could discover anything that wasn't obvious I barged into a rat trap and stood on the firewood. It may contribute to its value that I have done these things to it. To even tell people this is art is so laughable, why do we bother.

TIM MARLOW:
Germaine you were a fan of his work. Do you see a sense of evolution to that piece from the work you are familiar with?

GERMAINE GREER:
He was a better artist now than they was when he did that. I can see what he is going for. I don't think it works. Its not entirely his fault. The installation at the New Art Gallery is odd looking. You have that luminous feel above it. It doesn't establish its own space or have its own energy either. Each of the objects, they are too complicated and tricky. It doesn't have a nucleus. It doesn't build energy from everywhere. I trailed in it and out it. I could see what is going on. He is a much more confident artist now. He's using bigger spaces and he's not going for so many silly little effects. So many charismatic tricky objects where you think, where did that come from. What is inside that box.

MARK KERMODE:
Everything there is there for a reason. Everything is chosen. When you lie down on the floor, which I did.

PETER HITCHENS:
It's anti-imperialist.

MARK KERMODE:
It's not anti-imperialist., it's about the collapse of that. What is interesting, you go into it and you spend three quarters of an hour solving it. Its like "ok, what happened here?" You look at each individual item. And wonder what each individual item means about the character who may or may not live here. The problem is when you leave, you leave and it doesn't bring anything with it. Its an interesting exercise. It's a game, it's a quiz. It's a puzzle. But it's not junk. It's well chosen.

PETER HITCHENS:
Well chosen for what purpose?

MARK KERMODE:
To intrigue and titillate for the time you are in there.

PETER HITCHENS:
There were a few drawings that I gather Mr Nelson had done himself, which suggest that he might be able to draw. I always hope that these artists have got somewhere in a sealed room, real paintings or sculptures, which after 20 years of being adored by people saying how wonderful their junk is, they then produce and say "Actually I can paint and I do sculpture." I'm longing for these people to do this and have the last laugh on all the people who have admired the junk.


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