Mark Wallinger

Anthony Reynolds Gallery

Writing in Artforum on the 49th Venice Biennale, Benjamin H.D. Buchloh dismissed Mark Wallinger’s work as a clear-cut instance of spectacle culture usurping art’s previously oppositional spaces: Regurgitating “retardataire humanist, if not outright mythical or religious . . . messages,” work such as Wallinger’s, declared Buchloh, imposes viewing conditions that prevent both “individual contemplation” and “simultaneous collective reception.” Adding insult to injury, Buchloh branded Wallinger in this regard merely a “close second” to Bill Viola—the art world’s “Billy Graham,” in Wallinger’s own, geographically precise estimation.

Ouch. In the UK, where Wallinger’s track record is better known and the more obviously politicized foundations (circa ’80s to early ’90s) of his recent work are assumed, Buchloh’s summary condemnation must have raised as many hackles as eyebrows. But it also highlighted

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