london

“Seven Obsessions”

Whitechapel Gallery

When Chris Burden said of an early work that it “was about impotence really,” he might as easily have been talking about this show of works by seven artists. Though from the evidence of his own contribution—a steel and concrete number weighing in at eight tons—one might assume that he had personally got over this problem, impotence of one sort or another seems to lie, curled and cowed, at the core of these seven works. Though presented somewhat misleadingly as installations, none of the works in “Seven Obsessions,” with the exception of Mark Thompson’s Invocations, which occupies a room of its own, has any real hold, conceptually or otherwise, on the sleek interior of the Whitechapel Gallery. Installation proper is obsessive and possessive of the space it claims with authority or inhabits with impunity, and of its power to seduce or repel the spectator. What it is not is discreet and

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