Inside the timber construction we come face-to-face with our dysgenic reality, illustrated via nine drawings of ‘Belieber’ types (including the ‘pretty fly for a white guy’ American rapper Riff Raff, who is a dumber version of Vanilla Ice and part of Justin Bieber’s entourage). Vidal has portrayed Bieber in oil paint, wearing a wooly hat with the year 1994 printed on front (the year of the pop star’s birth). Although delicately painted, it is far from a generous portrait. Black and white with shades of burnt sienna ground peeking through, Bieber’s cheeks are hollow, eyes black, teeth thin. He looks like a junky; or Vidal is painting predictively of the child celebrity’s future.

The group of drawings, framed by rough timber sourced from fruit and veg crates, and crudely stapled into place, are primarily of teenage girls (along with Riff Raff) ‘swagging’ for the audience (i.e., to ‘swag’ is how youth culture presents itself in style and posture, usually with overemphasised hand and body gestures, a term that has proliferated culture in a conundrum of conjugations – ‘swaggy’ is seemingly one of Justin Bieber’s favourite terms).

From the celestial, architectural exterior of Vidal’s timber structure, that points towards – by all science factual and fictional accounts – a dystopian future, to an interior that incubates and compresses the celebrity fanaticism and cultural homogenisation of a dumbed-down present, we, the observers, are placed at a crossroads that is signposted PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE, and UNKNOWN. However, the real question that Vidal’s display posits is: have we already arrived in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, or worse still, Mike Judge’s Idiocracy?

Although Vidal’s art practice could be theoretically read within a museological framework, his displays do not convey such an overused and pretentious formula for art-making. For me they suggest archaeological discovery, combined with a temperamental specificity, wherein time travel is possible and meaning suggestible. His staged imagery are homeless in a world that doesn’t value such things as printed matter or the conservation of material history. There is something of David Markson’s novel Wittgenstein’s Mistress in the collision of diametric statements and visual textures which his artefactual displays seemingly pronounce. Vidal’s framing helps to reorganise the potential reading of his artworks, which can be imagined being pulled from a oil reservoir located up a desert road from ancient Alexandria (NCAD); just discovered in a tomb in which the air is still suffocatingly stale (NAG); and at Basic Space, a crash-landing from a parallel universe that is hopelessly the same as ours.

Runs till 10 October (by appointment)


Diamond in the Rough



Basic Space, Dublin

20 - 26 September, 2013 (10 October by appointment)



MARCEL VIDAL, ‘#untitled’, Basic Space, Dublin, 20 - 26 September, 2013 (10 October by appointment); courtesy of the artist and Basic Space.

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