GAVIN TURK: EN FACE – Vigo Gallery, London

1 - 28 September 2011
Vigo Gallery

With En Face (from the French, facing - opposite), Gavin Turk begins with the question of what happens when an original idea is reworked by another person. He then analyses the factors that condition the reception and aesthetic interpreation of artwork and how these processes open new roads to creation. For The Bust Party the artist invited an audience to manipulate the still wet and malleable clar of some of his life-size self-portrait busts, so the formerly classic self-portraits were transformed into a kind of surreal "exquisite corpse", where the work acquired an unexpected distortion.

In this interactive performance, attendees experienced the busts as works-in-progress to which they could add their own marks. Here, it was the audience and not the artists who physically altered the work and transformed it into something different. The fact of engaging in the artistic experience makes art an active process. To the traditional concepts of reproduction and representation are added those of making work one's own and public participation, the actions of whome contribute to the self-construction and self-development of art. All of the busts produced by the audience-artist serve to question preconceived notions of authorship, artist's signature, authenticity and the value of art, thus concluding with the traditional subject/object opposition.

Finally. the artists glazes the busts to look like bronze scupltures rather than clay. This glazing is another playful exploration of the tension between the plastic object and its appearances. There is alos the playing with the titles of the works themselves, anagrams of the artist's name: Gavin Turk becomes Raving Kut, Van Rug Kit or Turk Vagin. The letters are all ther, but rearranged so that they are barely recognisable, again suggesting confusion about the artist's identity.