An Interview with Rupert Jaeger

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Rupert Jaeger goes by many titles; artist, spokesperson, and most recently the man behind one of Hundred Years Gallery’s most recent exhibitions, Hostile Takeover. In ‘Hostile Takeover’, Jaeger tackled the topics of commercialism and consumerism, whilst also touching on concepts such as time travel and nostalgia.

In the lead up to his exhibition, Jaeger took to social media, posting obscure video footage and posing as a ‘nefarious financial spirit’ taking over Hundred Years Gallery in Hoxton. The playful way in which he cleverly incorporated the use of storytelling automatically grabbed my attention, and in particular his post on social media channels two weeks prior to his private viewing. (Shown below)

I am a nefarious financial spirit that has taken possession of the Hundred Years Gallery.

This Hostile Takeover is all-encompassing, entailing every physical, spiritual and other intangible aspect that constitutes the very existence of the Hundred Years Gallery.

I am now in possession of the gallery’s financial assets, define its legal structures and as of today have taken complete control of corporate communications, including all Social Media Channels.

Resistance is futile, yet rewards for engagement are plentiful.

Needless to say, the private viewing which fell on the 22nd of September was a huge success. Hundred Year’s Gallery’s Montse Gallego admitted defeat to the financial spirit, and his victory was celebrated throughout the night.

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(Photo from Hundred Years Gallery’s Facebook page)

Following his exhibition, I had a chat to Rupert about the central themes he discusses in his work, and to get a sense of what ‘Hostile Takeover’ was all about.

Q. What drew you to the art of story telling?
A. I consider my life, and life in general, a story. All I do is record what happens around me, and in that sense story telling is an integral part of my life.

Q. Describe Hostile Takeover in a sentence or two
A.
Hostile Takeover is a declaration of love to Capitalism.

Q. With social media websites like Facebook and Instagram reaching their peak of popularity, there seems to be a shift in the values of young people today. More often than not, it seems as though individuals are valuing an experience over consumer goods. As an artist who’s work often focuses on the theme of consumerism, do you personally believe we are seeing an increase or decrease in the need to spend money?
A. Growth is an inherent aspect of capitalism. The need to spend more and more money is a logical consequence of that. In principle, I don’t have a problem with the concept of consumerism or money. My artworks are my products, and if someone is willing to buy those, I see it as an appreciation of what I do. The problem in my opinion is that we have lost the ability to appreciate, let alone love our own products. This loss, ultimately, is being compensated for by attaching an artificial mathematical value to a product, without any real relation to the love that has – or should have – gone into the production of any given product.

Q. You previously worked as the Head of Communications at a global architecture firm. Do you think this has played into your work today as an artist? If so, how?
A.
Yes, my work as HoC at Design International had a huge impact on my work as an artist. In a nutshell, it brought out the antagonist in me. He is a crucial tool for my artistic ambitions. In practical terms, he is as an agent of strategy, and of course he is a key character in the wider story I am trying to tell.

Q. The ‘Antagonist’ and ‘Protagonist’ are recurring characters in your work. Did you always invision that they would play a role in many of your videos, and perhaps even contribute to your image as an artist?
A.
Both characters evolved somewhat organically over the last five years as part of  a series of projects I was undertaking, with the antagonist entering the scene only last year. I have always had ‘bigger plans’ for the characters, but during Hostile Takeover they took on a new meaning that I had not envisioned before. In that sense they have taken on a life of their own that is now beyond my control.

Q. And, for you, do they represent anything in particular?
A.
The Protagonist represents creativity, innocence and curiosity. He is the archetype of the artist, who explores ‘Forbidden Areas’, which most people would not dare to enter. He has the ability to travel in time and enjoys eternal life.
The Antagonist is the Protagonist’s nemesis, even though they ultimately work towards the same goal. He is a skilful navigator of structures that are measured solely in Zeros and Ones, yet he will enter forbidden areas only once the Protagonist has declared them safe. The Antagonist is the Grim Reaper.

To learn more about Rupert Jaeger’s work visit here and here.

Written by Sweet ‘Art’s Melina Payne

Frieze Week Recap by Melina Payne

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It was the biggest week in London’s cultural calendar, and you better believe the Sweet ‘Art team were (more than eagerly) hitting the streets. Yes folks, we’re talking about Frieze Week – a week dedicated to the thing we love the most – art.

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GUERRILLA GIRLS
Guerrilla Girls – Whitechapel Gallery

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Guerrilla Girls revisits their 1986 poster, ‘It’s Even Worse in Europe’

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In their latest exhibition, Guerrilla Girls explores diversity in the European art market (or lack there of)

 ACROSS THE FREE LAND
Across The Free Land by ZUMAR7 – Hundred Years Gallery

In his latest exhibition, ZUMAR7 works a lot with images found on flags and emblems of different countries, and does so in order to tell a story. ZUMAR7’s colourful drawings also explore themes of diversity and international togetherness.

Also included at Hundred Years’ private viewing was work from photographer, Mervyn Diese.

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(Above) By ZUMAR7

SUNDAY ART FAIR
Sunday Art Fair – Ambika

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(Above) By Vanessa Safavi

(Left)  ‘Ltd Los Angeles’ by Anja Salonen, (Right) By Chiara Camoni

THE OTHER ART FAIR
The Other Art Fair – Old Truman Brewery

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(Above) Sweet ‘Art’s very own Corrina and Charlotte

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(Above) Kristina S. William

MODERN PANIC

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JOHN LEE BIRD AT CARNESKYS FINISHING SCHOOL
John Lee Bird

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(Above) pieces by JLB

ARLIGHTON EXHIBITION
Arlington exhibition at Space Studios
Arlington is a multi purpose homeless hostel that hosts an exhibition of residents’ art works each year.  We were given this free art by Chris Bird!

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(Below) The voice of Arlington Zine

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HUMAN NATURE
Human Nature – espaciogallery

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(Above) ‘After Gericault’ by Patrick Blower, (Below) by Sima T Vassilieva

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CALVERT 22
Monumental Propaganda – Calvert 22

Donald Weber’s ‘Monumental Propaganda’ (2016) was a part of Calvert 22’s Power and Architecture series.  (As shown below) Soviet Lenin statues have been destroyed, leaving only empty plinths in their place, prompting ideas of what should replace Lenin.

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By Melina Payne (2016)

Turner Prize 2016 by Charlotte Elliston

In the lead up to Frieze week, I decided to go and check out the 2016 Turner Prize at Tate Britain. Having heard that for the first time, 3 of the artists in the running to win the prize were female, I was interested to check out the works on show.

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Another first for Tate was to allow photography in the exhibition. Someone clearly has seen the opportunities for social media within the exhibition, and realised the selfie potential from the works on display!

The first room presents the artist Helen Marten (who also has an exhibition on currently at the Serpentine I now want to see). Her sculptural works are assemblages of found and manipulated objects – a mixture of the domestic (cotton buds, eggs, money, fruit) and the esoteric (a shed snake-skin?). The blurb from Tate says each sculpture is meant to suggest a “workstation or terminal where some unknown human activity has been interrupted” but both the shapes and randomness of the collections in each piece reminded me more of an animal creating a den or home – the way a bird will collect items purely for shape and colour, with no knowledge or interest in their previous use.

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An aspect of Helen Marten’s work I did find curious, and which none of the reviews I’ve read mentioned, were the curious artist-made aspects of the work. In places, it was evident that metal and plastic had been worked by the artist to form shapes. The most obvious of these was in the first chrysalis-like sculpture formed of interlocking metal parts. Within this sculpture were shapes very reminiscent of a vagina dentata – imagine if Marnie Scarlet’s Vagball from SHE had teeth – this is how clear the reference seemed, to me at least, and yet no mention of this anywhere in the literature I have yet read.

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Next up was Anthea Hamilton’s work and yes, this is the most ‘grammable piece of work in the exhibition, with visitors posing in the ‘crack’ for photos. The piece Project for a Door (After Gaetano Pesce) was created from designs for a New York apartment door through which people would enter. It is possibly a comment on social housing – those of lower social status would have to enter via the rear, but here, in a gallery space, being photographed by affluent visitors, seems to lose any of this. Perhaps if visitors to the exhibition had been forced to actually walk through the doorway it may have been different.

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I preferred this piece of Hamilton’s work. A brick print suit set against a brick print wall. With references to surrealism, and hints of the nature of camouflage, I also felt it referenced ideas of invisibility, blending in, and the way clothes can enhance or deflect notice.

The third room was dedicated to Josephine Pryde, with a mainly photographic display. I had read the text handout on the artist before I entered the room and was excited by the sound of her new works created by Pryde, where she “placed objects on the back of the worktops, and then exposed them to sunlight in London, Athens, and Berlin” as I love a photogram, and was intrigued by the introduction of the domestic – expecting something similar to Běla Kolářová’s work  seen in Double Take earlier this year. I was quite disappointed in the actuality of the piece, where mostly vague shapes were seen on vague backgrounds. In one piece the artist had clearly imposed the word ‘Jo’ herself, and the most interesting of the series was the piece where a griddle had been placed a few times on the worktop, leaving a geometric design.

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The other half of the room was taken up by a scale model of a graffiti covered train, and photographs of hands interacting with objects. These were created to resemble advertising or fashion images but just arranged as to display hands at the point of touching an object – pine cone, lamp, etc. The most noticeable thing for me in these images was the large number of electronic devices chosen – phones and Ipads seemed to dominate. Perhaps this was even more noticeable now that everyone was photographing all of the works in the gallery (yes, I was one of them too!)

The final room led to Michael Dean’s installation. Entering the room, visitors had to negotiate bits of metal, cement chunks and debris which led round into the centre of the room. Bent metal poles and chains formed half-letters, possibly spelling out variants on the word SHORE, which was also present in stickers in the walls and papers on the floor. Hands and fists emerge from piles of rubble, as if trying to escape from a cave-in.

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In the centre of the floor is a huge pile of pennies. This is titled United Kingdom poverty line for two adults and two children: twenty thousand four hundred and thirty six pounds sterling as published on 1st September 2016 and is £20,436 in pennies. The government states that this is the minimum a family of 4 require to live on for a year. When installing the piece, Micheal Dean removed one penny, meaning that this family would now be below the poverty line. What strikes me most about this installation is how little the money looks. Although a large pile of pennies, I would image £20,000 worth of pennies to fill a swimming pool, not a few meters of a gallery floor. The installation as a whole seems more thoughtful, political and relevant to the current UK zeitgeist than the other three exhibiting artists. Whilst I loved Hannah Marten’s strange sculptures, I am rooting for Michael Dean to win.

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The Turner Prize is on until 2 January 2016 at Tate Britain

Helen Marten: Drunk Brown House is on until 20 November 2016 at the Serpentine