Guffwatch - Saatchi special

August 7 2013

Image of Guffwatch - Saatchi special

Picture: Guffwatch

Charles Saatchi is to sell a load of installation works at Christie's this autumn. As you'd expect, the Guffmeter goes off the scale in the accompanying catalogue, especially for such gems as the above 'piece' by Zhivago Duncan, which is called 'Pretentious Crap':

Pretentious Crap (2010-2011) is the remnants of a lost world reconfigured, contained within a heavy wooden and glass vitrine. We find towering rocklike formations that Zhivago Duncan has constructed out of Styrofoam and wax, and miniature railroad tracks, aeroplanes, locomotives and brightly coloured plastic monuments. Based on the fictional character of Dick Flash, the work was exhibited in 2011 at Contemporary Fine Arts, Berlin, at a show entitled Zhivago Duncan: Dick Flashs Souvenirs of Thought. The sole survivor of an apocalyptic catastrophe that has wiped out the rest of humanity, Dick Flash, a superhero persona, embarks on an odyssey in exploration of the devasted landscape. Pretentious Crap is one of Dick Flash's relics from his journey, where he has assembled former art objects in order to try and make sense of what has happened.

Embracing a variety of media that often has a gritty aesthetic associated with urban street culture, Zhivago Duncans work comments on contemporary cultural and socio-economic issues. In creating Dick Flash and these surreal recreations of a partially-remembered world, Duncan explores mankind, and the purpose of art within a postapocalyptic landscape, from a more objective perspective.

As Duncan has explained, 'Pretentious Crap is the result of the imaginary journey of Dick Flash, the worlds sole survivor of the apocalypse according to him and his legacy. Semiamnesiac, Dick Flash roams the converted world digging up the fruitful remains of his debauched ancestors. Without any recollection of his personal past, Dick Flash does, however, experience moments of epiphany, in which abstract notions of the origin of self, a collective memory, and the accumulated trials and tribulations of humanity are vaguely delineated, as revealed to him in prophetic visions'.

I think someone has had an irony bypass here.

The auction is a no-estimate, no-reserve sale. But before you think there may be bargains galore, note this nugget of Christie's small print, which is depressing on many levels: 'Extended payment terms are available on request for public institutions'. 

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