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Not that anyone else should really be blamed either: everyone involved (from gallerist to press rep to journalist to collector or fan) is simply playing their role in the inevitable process by which value is created and within which the appearance of (or proximity to) opposition carries a premium at the top end of the market. This position of corruption, internalised in the structuring of value,


power and desire, is assumed as the starting point in the work of Elizabeth Price, who is quickly becoming recognised as one of the most important British artists working today. The viewer is afforded no comfortable critical distance by her film User Group Disco, a highlight of the currently touring British Art Show 7. Price is a dominatrix over materials and her film unashamedly deploys every strategy at its disposal to seduce its viewer, from the ‘manifesto-chic’ political posturing of its recycled rhetoric to the nostalgic guilty pleasure of A-Ha’s 1984 single Take On Me. What initially looks like a pop promo turns out to be a self-reflexive meta-sculpture that implicates the viewer in the power structures within which it operates. By contrast, Ai Weiwei’s gallery work refers to the systems of control that seek to govern us but hopes you forget that neither you nor it are innocent within them. In fact it’s a different sort of political person that most precisely (if unwittingly) described the real political economy of contemporary art when he recounted a chance meeting at the annual billionaire’s ski club that is the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Mayor of London Boris Johnson explained (without a hint of irony) at an Olympic Games press conference how his commissioning of Anish Kapoor’s ArcelorMittal Orbit came about, saying that if he and Lakshmi Mittal had not bumped into each other in a Davos cloakroom, “we would not be where we are today”. Indeed.


Ai Weiwei continues until July 16th at the Lisson Gallery, London.


Elizabeth Price’s User Group Disco can be seen as part of the touring British Art Show 7 which is in Glasgow until August 21st and then in Plymouth from September 17th to December 4th.


Anish Kapoor’s work can be seen at the Manchester Art Centre until 5th June, at Le Grand Palais in Paris until 23rd June and in a regenerated city centre near you.


Above: Image by Ken Adlard - Courtesy Lisson Gallery


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