Artist's Statement: Ryan Gander talks about his video 'photo' at Manchester Art Gallery

Ryan Gander interviewed by Mark Sheerin | 14 July 2014

Conceptual artist Ryan Gander on his 'moving image photo', currently on show at Manchester Art Gallery

Colour photo of an artist on a sofa© Ryan Gander, courtesy the artist and Lisson Gallery

“The work is a one-minute loop. And it looks like it’s made for television. It looks like a TV looped running news feature, maybe that you’d see on CNN, where it has different information that is text-based over video footage

But essentially all the gaps in the information are used to fill in the facts about the work. And they are very logistical facts, so they’re talking about where you could buy the work from, the edition of it, the price of it. So it becomes a bit like a running advertisement for the sale of the artwork.

The video footage is of a girl. Her head is out of shot. She’s jumping up and down on a hotel room bed which, if you’ve stayed at the Hilton, you can tell it is the Hilton because they all look the same.

The work is called Poison is a Woman’s Weapon Watson (2011) and it’s what Sherlock said to Watson. There’s obviously some strands that you can pull between the title, and the idea that sex sells and the idea of luxury and escapism and illicit activity and naughtiness and all those themes are played on without being spoken about.

No, it’s not about womankind, it’s about making an artwork that is a superloop of its own meaning, that is like, having an idea in four dimensions and by the time you’ve thought through the idea, it’s turned itself inside out and you think it’s something else.

It’s more about the economy and the economic system of the artworld. It’s more about the ego of the artist, the art of self-promotion and all the baggage and embarrassment which comes with that. It’s not about women at all. It’s just got a woman in it.

I think there’s five of them and three of them have sold. Its also a durational video. I’ve spent the last four years trying to make videos that are no longer than a minute, and there’s certain systems that you can appropriate.

One is the television commercial, one is a scrolling news feature, another one is a loop DVD menu system. Because that’s what I’m finding interesting: to make videos which are a bit like photographs one minute photographs.

I’d say one of my main objectives is to be an explorer and a pioneer. They’re my objectives: to explore and be a pioneer of visual language. That’s the most that you can hope for. I think one of the other objectives is to make work that is unpredictable.

I think when I find predictability in other artists’ practice I lose interest. I don’t want to see them doing the same thing every day. I want to see quick, flashfire thinking which jumps and spins.

My hope would be my greatest achivement would be that all my works are totally different and that are unpredictable and inventive and innovative. [To do that], you have to be hyperaware all the time of the things around you and ask questions of everything you see.

It’s part of the human condition to be hyperaware and to think about the cultural and the social and historical meaning of things. But we usually do it when we’re in an art gallery, when we’re being told to do it, in a charged space. Whereas I have to try and do it all the time.”

  • Ryan Gander: Make every show like it’s your last can be seen at Manchester Art Gallery until September 14 2014. Open 10am-5pm (9pm Thursday). Admission free.

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Visit Mark Sheerin's contemporary art blog and follow him on Twitter.
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