British artist Andy Holden calls for sincere irony

The artist's Maximum Irony! Maximum Sincerity movement examines two seemingly opposing sentiments
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Installation view of Maximum Irony! Maximum Sincerity! 1999-2003: Towards a Unified Theory of MI!MS, courtesy of the Zabludowicz Collection and the artist. Photo by Andy Keate.
Installation view of Maximum Irony! Maximum Sincerity! 1999-2003: Towards a Unified Theory of MI!MS, courtesy of the Zabludowicz Collection and the artist. Photo by Andy Keate.

The great American writer F. Scott Fitzgerald once claimed that "the test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function."

Perhaps he would have relished a visit to London's Zabludowicz Collection this autumn. The gallery, belonging to businessman and collector Poju Zabludowicz and his wife, the art historian Anita Zabludowicz, is showing its annual commission, Maximum Irony! Maximum Sincerity, 1999-2003: Towards a Unified Theory of MI!MS.

This exhibition, on until 15 December, by British artist Andy Holden, is a mixture of films, installations and original artworks all drawn from Holden's own Maximum! Irony, Maximum Sincerity movement. Holden's manifesto insists that "We live in an age of irony in mourning for sincerity!" and that "We should not be cynical about the emotions in our work - we are simply cynical about the means we have to express that emotion."

 

The multimedia show serves as an examination and minor history lesson in Holden's MI!MS, which, he says dates back to 1999. There are recreations of bedrooms, utility rooms and cafes, where Holden and co once thrashed out their ideas. There is also an accompanying film, wherein teenagers from Holden's hometown of Bedford reenact the arguments and epiphanies of Holden's own mates. There are recordings of a children's choir and orchestra too, and plenty of more conventional works.

In all, it's both a refreshing look at how these two artistic modes might have more in common than one would initially imagine, and an engaging evocation of a kind of art-theory coming of age. Find out more about the show here, and, to understand the world in which Holden operates, take a look at our great book, Defining Contemporary Art.


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