Ryan Gander: Read Only
Ryan Gander once pretended to be Minister for the Department of Skills and Education in Britain. He took the job very seriously, commissioning an advertising company to Imagineer an ad to promote British Culture, an export Ryan had proudly identified as Britain’s most significant. Film, art, fashion, music, from Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber down to Damien Hirst, the British creativity thing is mega huge. The advertising company produced a print campaign, adhering to Minister Ryan’s exacting specifications. He went ‘method’ on the artwork, enduring a lot of boring round table meetings with advertising executives, just like real career politicians do. Shaping public opinion and easing suspicions is level one on the road to loosening the public purse strings and getting some cash on the counter for culture. Finally, I thought (as I listened to this story at Ryan’s Boiler Room Lecture, co-presented by ACCA and MUMA on Tuesday night), an Arts Minister who takes the portfolio seriously. Someone to represent us who doesn’t think artists are a bunch of bludgers who talk a load of shit. This Ryan Gander work may be a fictional scenario, but it still offers a brief ray of hope to a sector worn out by the harsh realities of dwindling governmental support and hysterical mainstream media coverage. It does seem that artists today really do have to do everything.
The Imagineer ad will be screened at Federation Square though out Ryan Gander’s ACCA show, Read Only.
Ryan Gander likes to lie and exaggerate and makes art as other people. When he first sold an artwork for money, his mother expressed some relief that her son wasn’t as mad as she’d imagined. Ryan Gander believes making bad work is good, he gave away art idea’s on twitter, and he reads everything from porn to fishing magazines because he believes it’s part of his job as an artist to know about everything. Ryan refers to the people checking his art out as Spectators; he throws red herrings into the scene to keep everyone, including himself, guessing. He challenges his own established patterns of producing work before they can descend into product design. Design and art are different things.
Ryan Gander has a fetish for drapery and curtains and hiding things. What we can’t see we want all the more to see. The harder the spectator works at seeing, the more it means. There are no easy rides here. Ryan Gander believes too in the tangibility of art. He has an ongoing friendship with the 38 iconic Degas’ Ballerina casts that are scattered round the world. After running into the Ballerina at just about every museum he visited within his life (as a bona fide jet setting red hot International Art Star in demand) he felt like he knew her. He reckons that Degas’ Ballerina has seen just about everything herself and Ryan has kindly unstuck her from the confines of her plinth. He’s enabled the Ballerina to hang out and lie round on the floor and be a normal teenager, more like other girls her own age. She’s easily bored and experiments with rebellious acts like smoking and generally gets a to experience a few more of life’s guiltier pleasures. With Ryan’s help. Degas’ Ballerina enjoys watching Miley Cyrus swinging from a wrecking ball, challenging Disney’s stranglehold on teen entertainment with every defiant move.
Ryan Gander’s wife Rebecca created a term she calls Am Phil. Am Phil is short for amateur philosophy. Ryan Gander could well be Dr. Am Phil, although there’s another Phil who manages Ryan’s 2 studio complexes and oversees the production of the 300 plus artworks that Ryan has made so far this year. He’s more likely the real Am Phil. Phil gave up making his own “crap art” that kept getting smaller and smaller as he progressed, to help Ryan make his great art. Now Phil is creatively content and doesn’t see a time when he will feel a need to go back to making art of his own.
Storytelling is central to Ryan’s practice and he believes that it doesn’t matter if a story is true or not, what matters is that a story stays with you. Creative license rules.