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‘In the Days of the Comet’ art in Nottingham

cometThe seventh British Art Show is subtitled ‘In the Days of the Comet’, an appropriate description for this collection of the best of British art from the past five years.  The show opened Saturday and is now playing at three Nottingham locations:  the New Art Exchange, the Nottingham Contemporary and Nottingham Castle Museum & Art Gallery.

British art in this case includes work that is produced in the U.K. or by British artists living abroad, a programme that allows a certain amount of flexibility.  One of the most engrossing works is by an American artist living in London, Christian Marclay.

It’s titled “The Clock” and is made up of thousands of snippets from films, each featuring a timepiece of some sort, and you can set your watch by it in any time zone.  Adrian Searle was quoted in The Guardian as calling it “unmissable but unwatchable”, as it continues through an entire 24-hour cycle.

Contemporary art, as depicted in this year’s British Art Show, is often quite incomprehensible on first glance, but the display put on in Nottingham packs a wallop.

Artists such as Nathaniel Mellor, with his animatronic head puking into a bucket, or Sarah Lucas with her Nuds sculptures made of stuffed women’s tights are just two examples of the 39 artists included in the show.

Some are already well known to the British public, and some are making a debut, but all are impressive and well worth the mind-bending that may be necessary to absorb their message.

Since the first British Art Show in 1979 there has been another one every five years up to now.  With the current economic situation and expected funding cuts to the artistic community, big shows like this one may have an iffy future, so catch it in Nottingham or when the show goes on tour to London, Glasgow and Plymouth.

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