In retrospect, it’s easy to identify links between them—as explorations into the relationship between labor and creativity, for example—but to do so is to ignore, or worse, to suppress, the jarring dissimilarities in tone that distinguish the works. The austere precision of Lothar Götz’s wall painting Connection (2015), for example, could not be further removed from the uplifting spirit of enthusiastic YouTube amateurism that defines Sam Curtis’s Did anyone ever tell you you’re beautiful when you’re following orders (2012). Neither is it easy to reconcile its celebration of creativity’s irruption into the workplace—mundane processes enlivened by dance, song, or performance—with the industrial-construction aesthetic of Demelza Watts’s All in a Day, Brian (2015), which lists its materials as “8 hours of the artist’s father’s labour, cement, sand, bricks.” In this case (and although the wall text and list of works seem to disagree on whether Brian should be co-credited as an artist), labor is something that you pay for, like cement, and thus at the disposal of the artist. Intentionally or not, the piece suggests the segregation of work from creative expression, where Curtis’s film celebrates their reconciliation.
Whether you find these dissimilarities stimulating (each work casts its neighbor into a new relief) or irritating (the attendant difficulty to address each work on its own terms) will determine your enjoyment of the 2015 edition of the London Open. Its 48 participants were whittled down from over 2,000 respondents to the open call to artists aged 26 or over and resident in London, by a panel comprising critic Ben Luke, artist
, collector Nicoletta Fiorucci, gallerist Jake Miller, and Whitechapel Gallery curators Daniel Herrmann and Poppy Bowers.