by Chad Rossouw (November, 2005)
Ed Young burst onto the scene in 2002 when his work Bruce Gordon, curated by Andrew Lamprecht, hit the media headlines. Bruce Gordon, Jo'burg bar owner and local art world personality, was auctioned at a fund-raising event held by Michaelis as Bruce Gordon (Found Object [concept]). He was bought by Suzy Bell for R52 000 and subsequently donated to the South African National Gallery. Of course, the concept of human-as-art coupled with the large amount of money exchanged was challenging and garnered a host of media attention. This work pretty much stands as the epitomé of Young's practice.
Ed Young can normally be found drinking at Jo'burg Bar in Cape Town till the early hours. One of his works from his undergraduate days at Michaelis can be seen on the wall. It comes from the time when Young worked in a studio and made art that could be hung on walls. Young may argue that a bar is a better place than a studio to entertain ideas of celebrity. Young has developed a persona as a marketing strategy, not in the corporate-financial-gain sense, but as a tool both to create art, and gain awareness for that art. It would be useful to note that even with all the media attention Young rarely sells work (with the notable exception of Bruce Gordon which was, strictly speaking, a donation).
Young's persona leads into his major themes of boredom, insolence and laziness, which he mixes with the forms of conceptualism, performance and minimalism. It's a contradictory, derisive, humorous cocktail and it is critical of and challenging to the South African art world. But, Young's works do more than just vacuous questioning. He works with the idea that the structure of the art world has superseded the art object itself. The art object is no longer necessary, and there is a far more interesting residue to play with. Young has teased out these ideas in a series of one-night exhibitions (where the only tangible objects were the catalogues written by theorist and sometime partner-in-crime Andrew Lamprecht), videos, performances and some sloppily-written one-liners printed on good paper. If we manage to get our heads around the fact that so little real work has attained for the artist such a wealth of media attention and international shows, while other artists google themselves every day in the hope of finding a mention, then maybe we can appreciate the seriousness of his project.
'Shit I can't think of an artist's statement, maybe Andrew [Lamprecht] should write it.'
Young is showing at 'Pilot: 2' in London, a show for unrepresented artists designed to coincide with the Frieze Art Fair. At the same time he is taking part in the inaugural triennale of contemporary art in Turin, Italy. The show on which he is featured is called 'The Pantagruel Syndrome' and is curated by Francesco Bonami and Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev. Young has recently returned from VideoBrasil in São Pãaolo. He is also to be seen on 'Threat Zones' at the Triangle Project Space in Texas.
Young completed his Master's in Fine Art, graduating with distinction in 2005. During 2004, he performed Do Nothing in Ghent, at a show hosted by Vooruit and initiated by Kendell Geers. He also showed at 'Grasduinen 1', curated by Cis Bierinckx, in Bredene, Belgium. At this exhibition he presented two videos, Killing Teddy and Damn those Bitches Represent, alongside a more performance-based work My Friend Dan's Crappy 90s Mix, in which the artist braaied large amounts of boerewors and blared out loud music during the opening reception. In 2004 Young, with his collective Gallerie Puta featuring Cameron Platter and Andrew Lamprecht, put on a show at the KZNSA in Durban called Storm, in which the three artists decided to have simultaneous solo shows in the same gallery. The work was named for the gallery's curator Storm van Rensburg and the trio reportedly left Durban with a string of debts. Gallerie Puta also attended Christian Nerf's '24/7' residency programme at the Johannesburg Art Gallery. They ended up playing the board game of world domination 'Risk' for 24 hours while drinking large amounts of booze. At the beginning of 2004, Young presented 'Asshole' at Bell-Roberts, a one-night exhibition which consisted mainly of strippers serving Heineken and KFC. The show was allegedly attended by 1000 people.
During 2003 Gallerie Puta curated a show called Meeting: Art in the Water Closet, where the show was held in a bathroom. Young showed Muse, which featured the all-female string quartet of the same name with oysters and champagne, but nothing else. This was the year in which he conceived of Bruce Gordon 2002/3.
Next year, Ed Young plans to open up a pottery studio in Kalk Bay.
Born October 15, 1978 in South Africa
Lives and works in Cape Town
1997 Completed one year Graphic Design, Free State Technikon, Bloemfontein.
2001 BA (FA), distinction in Sculpture and Studiowork, Michaelis School of Fine Art, UCT, Cape Town.
2005 MFA with distinction, Michaelis School of Fine Art, UCT, Cape Town.
'It's Not Easy', Bell-Roberts Gallery, Cape Town
'Storm', KZNSA, Durban
'Asshole', Bell-Roberts Gallery, Cape Town
'Muse', Bell-Roberts Gallery, Cape Town
'Bruce Gordon', South African National Gallery, Cape Town (curated by Andrew Lamprecht)
Selected Group Exhibitions
Video Art Channel, 'World Tune 2005, Kobe Art Village Center, Kobe, Japan. Programmed by Kazumi Kanemaki
Video Art Channel vol. 30: 'Echo of Reflective Images', Pola Museum, Tokyo. Programmed by Kazumi Kanemaki.br>
Flanders International Film Festival. Vooruit, Ghent. Programmed by Kendell Geers, Barbara Raes and Eva de Groote
'Grasduinen 01', S.M.A.K.-aan-Zee, Bredene. Curated by Cis Bierinckx
'Exchange views on�/ Echange vues sur�', Espace Croix-Baragnon. Curated by Ed Young and Sophie Solnychkine
'Camera Lucida', Flanders International Film Festival, Ghent. Curated by Cis Bierinckx
'Rencontres Internationales', Cinema l'Arlequin, Paris and Podewil, Berlin
'Printtttt', AVA, Cape Town, curated by Andrew Lamprecht
ABSA l'Atelier Finalist Exhibition, ABSA Gallery, Johannesburg.
'ArtintheDark', Faan Smit Park, Johannesburg. Curated by Trasi Henen / Terraplane
'Absolut Moment', AVA, Cape Town
The Brett Kebble Art Awards. Finalist Exhibition, The Cape Town International Convention Centre, Cape Town
'Negotiate', Johannesburg Art Gallery, Johannesburg
'Contra Mundi', AVA, Cape Town, curated by Andrew Lamprecht
'Ten Years of Democracy', South African National Gallery, Cape Town
ABSA l'Atelier Finalist Exhibition, ABSA Gallery, Johannesburg
'Picnic', Bell-Roberts Gallery, Cape Town, curated by Andrew Lamprecht
'Absolut Magic', AVA, Cape Town
'Art as Usual', Johannesburg Art Gallery, Johannesburg, curated by Christian Nerf
'Meeting: Art in the Water Closet', 2A Dysart Road, Cape Town, curated by Gallerie Puta
'YDEsire', Castle of Good Hope, Cape Town, curated by Kim Stern and James Webb
'Playtime', Newtown Precinct, Johannesburg
Public Sculpture Maquette Exhibition, AVA, Cape Town
'YDETag', South African National Gallery, Cape Town, curated by Andrew Putter and James Webb
'Emergency', Bell-Roberts, Cape Town, curated by Doreen Southwood, John Murray and Julia Clark
'Channel Too', AVA, Cape Town, curated by Robert Weinek
'Softserve II', South African National Gallery, Cape Town, curated by Zayd Minty with Colin Payne and Heath Nash
'Softserve', South African National Gallery, Cape Town, curated by Andrew Putter and Sue Williamson.