Monday, April 20, 2009

Paul Sakoilsky: Are these the Dark Times? Art in the Age of Media Panic

By Mike Watson
via art a part of cult(ure)

It was 2007 when Paul began collecting London’s free (and other) newspapers from trains, buses, the street, ‘editing’ the covers using paint and collage techniques, adding, altering and deconstructing images and text to create a new periodical: The Dark Times.

Across Austria, Germany, England, Italy, Sakoilsky has provoked thought on the status of our world, or our times, with one question, issued over and over, daily, ‘are these the dark times?’

This moniker ‘The Dark Times’ (after The New York Times, The Times, and so on) serves to remind the viewer of the difficult times we live in, whilst also satirising the absurdity of the media world we live in, driven by its desire to shock the public in order that papers may be sold, but possibly for more sinister reasons; is a fearful public a more malleable public?

Such questions are raised unflinchingly by the huge body of work that has now been amassed, and which has adorned many gallery walls - such as those in BonneliLab, Cannetto, Oct’02 to Feb ‘09 as part of group show ‘Paradiso Terrestre’ - as a vast tapestry of individual ‘newspaper’ editions, all collated and created by the artist-’Editor’ Paul Sakoilsky.

Days after revealing the first Dark Times: News Stand, an art installation at the V22 Sculpture show in London (opening 26h April), Sakoilsky’s next exhibition sees him assume the role of curator and Editor-proper as he presents Mayday: The Dark Times (Editor’s Choice ≠1) in Hastings. As the artist once maintained, of a live-in performance, in which he slept and worked in a makeshift ‘press office’ as part of the well documented environmental awareness exhibition ‘Climate of Change‘, ‘this is categorically not a performance’, so too we find his role as artist-Editor of the Dark Times newspaper takes on real-life proportions as he collates a genuine ‘newspaper’ consisting of writings and artworks from over 20 practitioners.

As he mounts the now familiar daytime ‘press-office’, collaging and painting his take of the days news upon free newspapers within the F-ISH gallery, Hastings, East Sussex, editions of this first ever print version of ‘The Dark Times’ will be for sale both as an affordable, standalone newsprint catalogue-paper, and as a limited edition boxed-set, comprised of digital C-Prints of selected submissions.

When you add to this the curated exhibition that will appear simultaneously at F-ISH, involving, amongst others, Gavin Turk and Liam Scully, we are presented with a metaphorical hall of mirrors, as art mimics life, mimicking art; found newspapers providing the impetus for painted works, which then inspire a printed edition.

This all compliments the forthrightness of Sakoilsky’s work, in which we are asked remorselessly to account for the times we live in now, right now, yet in the full knowledge that we will be asked the question over and over ad infinitum.

There is no easy answer to whether or not we live in the Dark Times, the end of days, yet it seems appropriate that Paul Sakoilsky asks this same question at the opening of this show on May 1st - the official International Workers Day, but also the date of a Pagan festival signifying renewal - in the town of Hastings; a seaside jewel that lost its lustre many aeons ago.

At a time when the fate and security of the United Kingdom seems constantly under threat from terrorists, from failing banks, from freak weather patterns, and at a time when the frivolity of art comes into question, Sakoilsky takes his mixture of dry wit and pointed wisdom to the heart of the UK itself; not to London, but to the environs, to the kind of place where people of normal aspirations (to remain safe, to remain calm, and so on) live and work.

In doing this Paul asks, amongst all the other questions, whether the UK art scene has really collapsed – as some doomsayers argue - or even diminished? If the activity of the artist seems frivolous in times of economic hardship this is in part due to the artwork’s ability to stand aside from the indignities of financial squalor, just as the best art stands aside from the indignity of gross wealth in times of prosperity. If these are the Dark Times, Sakoilsky reminds us that Art is in a unique position to shine a light upon them.

Art cannot bemoan the current state of the economy: The financial industry wakes periodically to the illusory reality that is, in any case, art’s premise. It is this illusion - that which makes it possible to take and transform a daily newspaper into satire, for example - which adds the lustre to these Dark Times.

Upcoming Show: MAY DAY: THE DARK TIMES (Editor’s Choice≠1). F-ISH, Hastings, UK, England. 2nd May - 12th June Wednesday, V22 Sculpture Show, The Biscuit Factory, Bermondsey, London, SE16. Exhibiton and Artist Preview.

The first ever print edition of ‘The Dark Times’ will be issued in a run of 2,000, and also as a Limited Edition box-set. Editor, Paul Sakoilsky, Art designer Rogan Jeans, in conjunction with F-ISH Gallery.

More about Paul Sakoilsky here.

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