Performance art can be challenging. But we love a challenge and we love The Foundry. So we made the effort to see Astrid Bin’s “Do Your Work”.
The deal is this: for 2 weeks you can watch the artist at work. Then you can buy the resulting images, in a 'big everything must go' sale on the evening of the 16th where each piece of work created is on sale for £20. The artist is making a statement about artists and their work; how it is actually work. How it is as much of a struggle as any other type of work. How the amount of work doesn't often result in a fair wage. Anyone who has ever known an artist would be aware of this, however. Obviously there are huge segments of the general public who don't know this. But they are unlikely to go to a performance art event, ever.
For us, the piece was as much about that, as an attempt to lay bare the creative process. What use that is, we’re not sure. It seems that the mediation between artist and artwork, that is the process of creating artwork, is boring to someone outside this internal dialogue as it’s a personal, private, wordless thing. Attempts by artists to rationalize this process after the event are a different matter.
This performance is a brave thing to do. It would be mean to dismiss the work here as 'Tesco Value Emin". The personal nature of her work shows off the angst and (sometimes) banality of creation quite well. When we went there, there was work about how she worried that she wasn't perceived to be a 'Shoreditch person', or she'd run out of ideas, or even why men didn't talk to her while she was creating.
We remain unconvinced. There were far too many pieces consisting just of writing. Perhaps she is a writer in disguise? Also good art conceals the self-indulgence at its core. The exhibition left us wishing her artistic abilities matched her talent for self-promotion. But, there’s still time for you to go see for yourself.
By Oliver Gili
"Do Your Work" Astrid Bin, until February 16, 2008, The Foundry, 86 Great Eastern Street, London, EC2A 3JL.