In the vérité documentary film/art work, Good Times Will Never be the Same (2007), Director Jody Lee Lipes follows New York artist, Brock Enright, who drives to his girlfriend’s family cabin in Mendocino, California, to create a body of work for his first solo show at the prominent New York Gallery run by Perry Rubenstein. (For my purpose here, I will not be describing the ins and outs of the film; however Mermaid Arts Centre have agreed to screen the film in June (2012).

For now I am interested in focusing on one section of the film, wherein art dealer Perry Rubenstein tries to ‘manage’ Enright’s art practice, what can only be described as a self-destructive output. Without going too deep into what Enright does, his events are an assemblage of filthy performances-cum-video documents. Since 2007, and up until recently, he has produced art objects for his gallery shows, but they are more spill-off from his performances than overdetermined artworks. He became well known in the American media circles throughout 2002 when he setup Videogames Adventure Services (VAS), a company that constructs reality adventures for paying clients: people have paid between $5,000 and $60,000 for the Enright experience. Bottom line, his clients are either fetishists, clients with issues or too much money, or fanboy and girls. (believe it or not, there is such a thing as artist groupies).

Back to the discussion between Rubenstein and Enright, which starts out with the gallerist giving his interpretation of the artworld from the perspective of the art dealer, which is a set of oppositions, between art market/patron vs audience/gallerist’s personal interest in the artist. In the film, Rubenstein illustrates his artworld philosophy by getting Enright to itemise, name and price his spill-off objects, just in case someone wants a shit-covered basketball (this is as refined as Enright gets, well, back in 2007 it was!).

I saw the results of Enright’s creative detour to Perry Rubenstein via California with a fellow Irish artist in March of 2007. Joint first impressions were repulsion and a quick exit. Even the hard-nosed New York Times Critic, Roberta Smith, experienced what she described as “scary moments and memorable ones too.”[1] But cut-and-paste edits from reviews are always relative when taken out of context. Smith started the review by writing: “For several years Brock Enright has been a tantalizingly elusive figure.” This moment of flattery, however, was followed by: “The opposite of elusive, Mr. Enright’s current solo show...”

What first attracted Rubenstein to Enright was the artist’s activity outside of the gallery circuit. However, to reign that in, within the artificial context of his gallery, was fraught with problems from the onset. Enright was dropped by Rubenstein shortly afterward for what the art dealer described as “significant differences”. 

However, this is not a story about the BIG BAD ART WORLD/ART DEALER vs the poor, misunderstood artist. Roberta Smith’s review and Rubenstein’s decision to drop Enright are understandable. Even though Enright’s first solo show at Perry Rubenstein’s was one of the most memorable works I have experienced in a decade, the shows that followed displayed a forced and uneasy manufacturing of art objects.

Let’s not be naïve, a gallerist needs to pay for art fairs, not to mention eat like the rest of us. Even the late Mike Kelley (an “elusive” but also blue-chip artist) succeeded in making works that were collectable, such as his Kandors, Full Set (2005-2009), which is in the collection of one of the artworld’s richest collectors, Francois Pinault. 

Today Enright has no gallery representation in the US, but he has recently resurrected Videogames Adventure Services, giving up on the artworld and retaining a bit of elusiveness, until it must be assumed, he gets another chance at fame.

Closer to home, the tale of one Artist and a Gallerist may shed more light on the oppositional agendas/power struggles between gallerist and artist. 

So, the story goes that an Artist gets a request for a studio visit

by a prominent gallery in Dublin.

This agreed upon request was followed by the Gallerist seeing the Artist’s work

in two concurrent group shows

before the studio visit was conducted.

Soon afterward, a chance meeting between the Artist and Gallerist occurred,

in which the Gallerist termed the Artist’s practice as

“site-work.” followed by, we don’t do that!

However a clause in the ‘insult’ was offered, whereby the Artist

had 4 weeks to think up, and make an art work (‘object’)

for a proposed future group show at the gallery.

The “studio visit” was scrapped.

The Artist thought long and hard. Once rough and ready assemblages

became ‘Faberge Eggs’ in the Artist’s mind.

However, that’s where they stayed put, in the head.

The fourth week came and went without further contact between

the Artist and Gallerist,

vice versa.

The End.

This is not a story of martyrdom for artistic principals. This particular Artist had passed their 'sell-by-date', deconstructed to the point of obliteration. 

So the story goes...


[1]    Roberta Smith , Art in Review; Brock Enright, Good Times Will Never Be the Same,

*Perry Rubenstein is in the process of moving wholesale to LA: see his 'LA slideshow' (minus art/artists) here:

*Brock Enright is currently approaching American T.V. networks in a realistic bid for a Videogames Adventure Services TV series.

LEFT: the nosferatu of the artworld, Bernard Arnault, art collector extraordinaire; who followed (and subsequently surpassed) the business footsteps of fellow art collector Francois Pinault.  

RiIGHT: daisy-cutter Julie Andrews, without a care in the world, in The Sound of Music (1965).


How to not get Gallery Representation!



HOME             ABOUT               REVIEWS                 VIDEO                PRINT             COMMISSIONS           WORKSHOP         MAKING FAMILIAR       EVA INTERNATIONAL 2014