Critics’ Picks

View of “Moarg Keil,” 2019.

London

Morag Keil

ICA - Institute of Contemporary Arts, London
The Mall
January 30–April 14

Controllers, 2019, installed in the upper galleries of “Moarg Kiel,” is a bile-green door jammed shut. Its peephole affords a glimpse of Alexa’s blue halo, as if to propose the Amazon bot—feminized, confined—as an update of Duchamp’s Étant donnés. Another door opens onto Shopping, 2011/19, where tendril-like wires hang from the ceiling. The wires connect a system of speakers nestled into washing-up bowls from which audio spills, clashing advertising and video-game samples to give the bare room a homely, mall-like atmosphere. Art’s technological support structures become a site of consumption from which to derive new works: Shopping came about as a low-budget experiment in remaking the sound-zoning system in Hayward Gallery’s 2008–2009 Warhol retrospective. Originally titled Civil War, the work casts both the ICA and the viewer as a customer. Follow “Pathway,” 2018/19, a series of posters connecting installations downstairs, collaging the artist’s Instagram feed onto window frames on the floor.

Complementing Keil’s decision to misspell her name in the exhibition’s title—scrambling branding strategies premised on making person and product interchangeable—the sculpture Reap What You Sow, 2014, strikes a charmingly naff portrait, inspired by one of the first cloned sheep, Morag. The show is encapsulated by the didactic Audio Guide, 2019, voiced by Oliver Corino, who stresses the churning rhythms of works such as Clock, 2018–19, “which tells the time and goes round and round.” In an exhibition full of circular motion, stoppages feel significant as sites of potential release. In Keil and Georgie Nettell’s collaborative film Questionnaire, 2017–19, which screens just once daily in the ICA’s cinema, a rotating purple-black spiral punctuates a monotonous scroll through the artists’ days, a backdrop to questions including “What’s the hardest job in the world?” which elicits responses from twenty-four voices. Fulfilling the exhibition’s anti-professional aesthetic, no one replies, “Artist.”