I let somebody get under my skin
Ryan Gander

Issue no2
April - May 2022
countryside & biennale guide

I let somebody get under my skin is the title of Ryan Gander’s third solo exhibition at Annet Gelink Gallery in Amsterdam. Being a master of storytelling, Gander’s work has always delved heavily into the world of meta-narratives, resulting in a series of works about pre-existing moments in time.

Things that mean things and things that look like they mean things(2008) is a video work in the show that documents the process of filming a fictitious 16mm film portrait of a small group of art students sketching paintings by Francis Bacon at Tate Britain. The focus of the film seems to be on the magic of temporarily embodying someone else’s glory, while the students themselves also remain the subjects of Gander’s study into self-reflexivity and afterthoughts on process and post-production.

The other video work Encrypt Encrypt, Encrypt…revisited (2008) shows a series of 3 TV monitors, each displaying a small yellow ball at the bottom of a blue screen bouncing to the subliminal tempo of the Bauhaus manifesto, being read out by the artist. Although the movement of the balls is mathematically calculated to represent the pace of words as they are spoken, the form in which the movement takes place represents - exactly as the manifesto states - the redundancy of fine art as a singular form without the existence of design. It is a point that is often reiterated in Gander’s work when he references to utopian visionaries such as Le Corbusier and Gerrit Rietveld.

This urban and architectural romanticism forms the base of most of the works in the show. I’m Getting off Here for example, is a model resembling the Cabanon, a holiday seaside hut, the only exterior and interior design Le Corbusier built himself and inhabited with his wife - which coincidently, is also the site of his death. The shattered glass on the floor in front of the model reflects what Le Corbusier himself once remarked: “How nice it would be to die swimming towards the sun” (it was commonly believed that Le Corbusier drowned at sea after the death of his wife).

Another comment on the inseparable nature of art and design pops up in Investigation #13 – LOOK; consisting two different prints of the same image – an entrance to the valley of Petra, which refers to the grandiose spectacle of distant supernatural formation as a subject of much curiosity and awe.

I let somebody get under my skin allows the audience a glimpse into the anecdotal nature of artistic production, at times absurdist and other times simply charming in its ability to combine use of linguistic play and transparent symbolism.

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Metropolis M Magazine for contemporary art No 2 — 2022