Paul’s ART STUFF on a train # 83: ‘Paris Photo without the People’

Penelope Umbrico

Penelope Umbrico: 5db0_1-2.jpg from Broken Sets / eBay 2008/2014 at Robert Koch Gallery, San Francisco

As I mentioned last week, Paris Photo (13-16 Nov) proved decidedly crowded. That may have increased the attraction of these works, which are markedly devoid of people, and I’ve also gone for maximum colour. You can see a wider personless selection at paulsartworld.blogspot.com. American artist Penelope Umbrico is known for culling unexpected sets of images from the Internet: her collection of suns will feature at the Photographer’s Gallery from 4 December. The ‘Broken Sets’ of chromogenic prints on metallic paper show that mal-operative LCD TVs – being sold on eBay for their parts – do function to the point of illuminating the screen. In these unpictures, the failure of new technology folds into with the aesthetics of modernist abstraction in a match-up of utopian aspirations. Interdisciplinary Swiss/Danish artist duo Putput have made a cheerfully saturated series of scouring pads masquerading as ice lollies, on the one hand referencing classic product shots, on the other hand undermining the sales intent by the disfunctional result. That putput me in mind of how food is often rendered inedible in order to photograph it optimally; and of how someone has to do the domestic drudgery which facilitates children’s enjoyment of treats…

putput0

Putput: popsicles, 2012 at Galerie Esther Woerdehoff,Paris

Most days art critic Paul Carey-Kent spends hours on the train, traveling between his home in Southampton and his day job in London. Could he, we asked, jot down whatever came into his head?

About Paul Carey-Kent

Art critic and curator, based in Southampton. I write most regularly for Art Monthly, Frieze, The Art Newspaper, Border Crossings, STATE, Photomonitor, Art Critical, ArtLyst... and, of course, FAD - when I'm on the train to and from my job in London as a health and social care financial policy analyst.