Keith Rankin

PUBLISHED IN ISSUE 14
WORDS BY JOE MCMURRAY

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I appreciate the work of Keith Rankin (and by association the music from Orange Milk music) for the obvious ability it indicates, but also for its engagement with current trends: matte surfaces; squiggles; goop; iPods; featureless silhouettes; greco-roman architecture. Rankin has incredible style and clear formal talent, and his work really gets me thinking about style and ability and trends and irony. A style or movement needs talented participants in order to validate itself as something other than a trend, namely a school. Rankin’s iterations can be seen as engaging somewhat in current trends, but they are beautiful, thoughtful, eloquent, and well-rendered.

All this stuff about trends and schools and style is such a headache, and while I can at least pretend to talk about it with a certain degree of nuance (but probably not), it really bores me and everyone else to tears. The 20th century promulgated notions of progress and avant-gardism were challenged by fin-de-siecle artists and philosophers, but not abandoned. What remains is not necessarily a teleological point of view (though not necessarily not a teleological view), but primarily the cultish worship of whatever is new. New is cool. Cool is new. Which is to say that contemporary art exists in a tautology that immediately dissolves any of its supposed value. And now, in the age of information, the compendium of purely self-referential art is growing faster than we can possibly imagine. Terabytes of data beside your computer right now. Think of all the data in your house. Then again maybe the fact that contemporary art has so little to say is its ambivalent coup-de-grace. It looks good, it sounds good, and it’s brand new, what more do you want? and what more should we want? The fractal, no matter how deep we go, continues to repeat itself. There is no escape. If Rankin’s work can get me thinking about all this then perhaps it has done its job, at least as far as our preconceptions of what art should accomplish are concerned. He has a voice and a vision and probably a pretty good sense of humour. He’s a good artist. – JOE MCMURRAY

 

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