“Spin spin” says cool-cat gallerist Baylon Sandri as he tells me that the artist’s “hand is present in the work”. By this he is obviously referring to the middle finger of Ed Young, in a very Cattelan mood.
Nestled away at the back of the SMAC, around a corner stand is the very confrontational protrusion of Ed Young’s gesturing arm, flipping the bird. This, as Sandri explains to me is an answer to his critics who accuse him of not making his own work, rather commissioning special affects companies to do the fabricating for him.
Obviously this kind of thing has a precedent. Many agree that in contemporary art the artists’ hand is no longer important; ‘he concept is all that really matters’. But then again, there are those who get misty eyed and sentimental about the ‘authenticity’ of the work.
Ed’s one of those artists who, frankly, is lazy when it comes to making work. The less he can do the better, and yet he’ll protest that he ‘works bloody hard’. There is nevertheless something rather remarkable about the fastidiousness of his production values. The hair on his prosthetic arm mirrors his own ape like appearance. The dirt under his cracked fingernails, the limp conviction in his wrist personifies his makeup.
Cattelan, Ed’s hero, did a similar version of the universal fuck you hand gesture, only larger than life and made from Carrera marble with the index finger amputated in the style of classical roman architecture. Location is always important. Cattelan’s version stands outside the Italian stock exchange, much to the ire of the bankers who battle every day to prop up the embattled Euro-zone economy.
Ed’s finger says something similar. At R45 000 “it’s a bit out of my range for a clothes hook”, says his one time business partner and friend Matthew Blackman. Their not for profit business venture, The YOUNGBLACKMAN just having folded, there seems to be a jaded hook in Ed’s presence here – a smirk maybe. A misplaced stab, defiantly daring a resistant market to buy.
Perhaps the begging question is on whose coat-tales will Ed’s finger end up hanging on?