Elephant # 5 —

Confirming, if anything, that Elephant’s real strength and interests lie in engaging with ‘visual culture’ –a term commonly used in Dutch cultural circles to denote all of those phenomena that have fundamentally arisen from popular culture rather than ‘fine art’- the current issue of Elephant devotes prime attention not to those things currently causing excited rumours amongst institutional curators and leading private collectors of contemporary art, but to a cohort of young artists and the odd big name. To call many of them ‘emerging’ would even be a misnomer given how high the bar is set these days. Furthermore, whether ‘pre-merging’ or established, many show some affinity with the world of design, perhaps most evident in the article on a new boat project by Dutch design studio, Studio Job.

But, championing young artists with the kind of space usually only afforded those who have already made a notable mark is one of Elephant’s charms and achievements. In this particular issue, there are a number of artists whose talents show that they readily warrant the attention, perhaps most notably Italian artist Ludovica Gioscia whose bright and garish installations nonetheless walk a careful path in linking the world of abstract art and the decorative traditions of textiles and printed wallpapers.

And, given that Berlin’s reputation as a hotbed of artistic activity so often leads to a monotonous repetition of familiar platitudes, its reassuring to see that Elephant has been able to profile the entirely neglected talent of Miron Zownir in their survey of the city’s art scene.

    Elephant # 5 –
    December 2010 212 Pages 0 Minutes of audio 0 Minutes of video
    In This Issue –
    Kim Hiorthoy Mike Meire Monice Naranjo Uribe Wolfe Von Lenkiewicz Berlin Guide Maya Gold Raymond Pettibon Thomas Demand The Art Of Collage Tom Hingston
    Creative Director –
    Studio8 Design
    Art Director –
    Studio8 Design, Matt Willey
    Elephant - Elephant # 5  Elephant - Elephant # 5  Elephant - Elephant # 5  Elephant - Elephant # 5  Elephant - Elephant # 5  Elephant # 5  Elephant - Elephant # 5

Our Take —

Elephant is the baby brother in the stable that includes the lauded architecture and design titles Mark and Frame. Like its older siblings, the title is noted for strong art direction and high quality production values.

Despite the key editorial team being international and based primarily in Anglophone cultures, it nonetheless shares certain regional sensibilities with other titles by the same publishing house. This makes it a rather unusual addition to the international offer of titles covering contemporary art. For example, it’s not entirely clear why the editorial approach sees certain features highlighted: the representational, the illustrative and the decorative. Indeed, thus far, the majority of Elephant’s content has been devoted to fairly young or lesser-known artists. Many of them work with the visual languages that we more readily associate with street art, graphic design or even product design. The articles are hardly academic or intellectual and there is practically no contextualistaion of ‘the global art world’; no background info on the movers and shakers in key international institutions or behind-the-scenes information on key art world events. In fact, one gets the distinct feeling that those making Elephant are not particularly connected – or perhaps even interested in- the bigger contemporary art picture. At least not right now. However, referring to itself as ‘The Art & Visual Culture Magazine’ it would seem that these qualities are quite intentional. The term ‘visual culture’, for example, is commonly used in certain European cultural circles to denote all of those phenomena that have fundamentally arisen from popular culture rather than ‘fine art’.

All of this is relative. If you are an experienced aficionado of or work within the international contemporary art circuit, the title might feel like rather light fare; all beautiful surface and still needing to find gravitas. But, god knows its difficult enough for anyone to produce a tome of a title on contemporary art in the current climate so even the cynical should welcome this for-the-love-of-it effort. If, on the other hand, like its growing audience, your interest in contemporary art prefers something that is easy on the eye, accessible and devoid of the intellectual chicanery of more ‘serious’ art titles, then no doubt Elephant will prove exactly what you’ve been waiting for. 

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Culture Art

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