At a time when art was struggling to define itself through a single dominant movement or school of thought, this exhibition identified 13 international artists who shared an approach to materials and ideas.
Their work was characterised by inventiveness, humour and irony, often embracing an economy of means and a lightness of touch whilst making insightful and irreverent comment on the current state of affairs in the art world and beyond.
State of Play continued the Serpentine’s long-standing commitment to presenting work by a younger generation of artists through innovative group exhibitions. Many of the artists were exhibited in the UK for the first time in this show. All of the works included in the exhibition were selected in close collaboration with the artists and many were created especially for this show.
The featured work ranged from the humorous to the ironic, from the poetic to the absurd, and from the light-hearted to the dark. Working in a variety of media, the artists created imagery and scenarios that have in common a sense of informality and an air of spontaneity. Whether embracing an economy of means and using everyday or discarded materials, playing off the architecture of the gallery or devising situations that are deliberately self-mocking, the participating artists created playful and provocative statements about contemporary art and the world at large.
Artists in the exhibition included Italian-born artist-provocateur Maurizio Cattelan, much of whose work functions as spectacle, challenging the conventions of the art institution; British Turner Prize winner Martin Creed, whose self-effacing approach results in deceptively simple yet highly subversive works of art; and New York artist Tony Feher who, with common materials such as coloured tape, string and filled or partially filled water bottles, creates restrained yet playful interventions inside and outside the gallery space. Mexican artist Gabriel Kuri brings out the poetic potential in everyday objects and materials to reflect on consumer behaviour and the function of art within capitalist society.
Combining elements of performance art, poetry, music and sculpture, the video installations of Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist envelop the viewer in a total environment that is sometimes mesmerizing and intriguing, sometimes arch and witty. Glasgow-based artist David Shrigley makes deliberately faux-naive drawings and sculptures that focus on the absurdity of everyday life. Sarah Sze creates elaborate systems and whimsical arrangements that reflect on complex relationships and networks within contemporary life.
The exhibition was curated by Rochelle Steiner. The participating artists were: Maurizio Cattelan, Martin Creed, Tony Feher, Christian Jankowski, Gabriel Kuri, Bjorn Melhus, Aleksandra Mir, Tim Noble and Sue Webster, Pipilotti Rist, David Shrigley, Andreas Slominski and Sarah Sze.