Review: The Bagwell in Me, BAC Burst Festival
Published on Culture Wars, 21.05.2009
It turns out that if there is another way, nobody told Ann Liv Young. On the basis of her showings at Burst, one can only assume that she handles all material identically: with an overdose of attitude and a dollop of ‘shocking’ sexuality. It all leaves one wondering what else she might apply her ‘technique’ to: the Middle East conflict, perhaps, or a letter to Santa.
The Bagwell in Me, which ostensibly concerns itself with the relationship of George and Martha Washington with their slave Romy Bagwell, uses the very same devices as Solo. Once again she and Isobel gradually fall out of their clothes, perform sex acts and thrust their groins in the faces of audience members. They maul a mixtape’s worth of pop songs at extreme volume and berate the sound technician for the lack of noise, while the same two men run around tidying up after them and filming the action. Only this time they do it in period clothing and periwigs.
Anyway. It’s all, like, well fucking confrontational, yeah? Only constant confrontation becomes, at best, tiresome and tedious. The main problem – and there are many – is that her form is so noisy it drowns out any possibility of genuine content. Her work is so nihilistic that it is devoid even of nihilism; so Emperor’s New Clothes that you can’t but question whether the whole work is a joke at its own meaninglessness. Maybe that’s the point: it’s all, like, totally post-post-whatever, yeah?
By way of example, as a naked Isobel draped in the stars and stripes coated herself in a semen-like liquid, I found myself wondering whether it was milk of magnesium.
Ann Liv Young is the sort of artist that won’t accept her own wrongs. You feel that whatever is said she’ll wear it as a badge of honour. Like a child desperate for attention, the best thing to do is to pay her none.