SYNOPSIS BY PATRICK SHIER: For his presentation in Katie Guggenheim’s week of Film Shows, Richard John Jones chose to screen Orson Welles’ F for Fake (1975), the image of which was projected in the first room of the exhibition space, and the soundtrack played in the second, smaller room according to the curator’s initial outlines. On the double bed in the first room were several copies of a pamphlet, New Display Strategies: rich masterplans that can sustain complex and successful institutions, a sort of essay that is apparently constructed from material relating to “the problem of the representation of longitudinal artistic practices in contemporary exhibition making.” It seems to be something to do with challenging our ideas about representing chronologies or practices dictated by modern, western conventions. This is at first interesting and difficult but becomes unappealing in its physical form when the rejection of academic convention leaves the reader frustrated with un-cited transcripts.

I have since read about F for Fake as “a playful repository of public history intertwined with private in-jokes (NB. New Display Strategies is a collaborative project) as well as duplicitous meanings, an elaborate blend of sense and nonsense that carries us along regardless of what is actually being said.” With this in mind the evening begins to seem rather basely ‘themed’; a satisfying contrast to the complexity and intricate construction of the material presented. In the kitchen, connecting rooms one and two, was a monitor screening the first part of a documentary commissioned by artists Goldin+Senneby, made by Jones in collaboration with artist and filmmaker Kate Cooper. The film, Looking for Headless, involves Jones and Cooper exploring the notion of offshore investments, the benefits of, tactics employed, moral implications, etc., and specifically trying to find out about one elusive offshore agent in particular; Headless Ltd. They employ the expertise of financial and legal professionals, as well as extensive advice from an investigative reporter. They share with us the confusion that arises from these myriad viewpoints. Through the voiceover in Jones’ unassuming, friendly drawl the sinister nature of these dealings and the difficulty of finding an authoritative voice on the subject become quite unnervingly apparent. Here again there is a blundering overlapping with Welles’ exploration of art forgery in the questionable or conflicting authority of experts, and documentary competing and co-existing with fiction.

In the sound room the aforementioned narrative is still audible, now in tandem with the soundtrack of the feature film. These accompany an A4 newspaper clipping, or rather printout I think, of an article about the Pope condemning offshore tax havens and blaming them for the current financial crisis. This is clearly a logical and fortuitously current development in the story of the exhibition, but it is only now having read through New Display Strategies that I can understand this show as demonstration of what is being considered in that first unusual and rather irritating document.

The two soundtracks and the wall pasted text also share the second room with Martin Creed’s permanently installed Lights going on and off. There is a self-satisfied, maverick quality to the construction of the pamphlet, which seems to be repeated in Jones’ decision not to lobby to remove this erroneous work from his solo presentation, as other participants did. It riffs on the contempt engendered by the content of the documentary, but is, I think, rallying against inequality in a far healthier, more jovial way.

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