Monday, 12 January 2009
Keith Coventry Pre-emptively Stole My Idea!
One of the innumerable little ideas that we've idly dreamt up, entertained for about five minutes and then discarded, through a mixture of satisfaction at the concept itself and the usual 'it's not worth it' attitude to production and dissemination (or, of course laziness), was a series of paintings based on the billboards at the entrance to post-war housing estates, and the strangely suprematist maps they have displayed on them. A strange movement of sign, whereby pictorial function invites aesthetic comparison with avant-gardism, connected by a strange Utopian quotidian.
It's interesting, for we have never, ever seen a map for a suburban 'garden city' style estate. Is this indicative of something? Quasi-vernacular estates are certainly no less visually homogenous nor labyrinthine than their Modern relatives, in fact, they are often more so. In a naive vein; why would a municipal authority charged with providing housing for society also provide a service such as a visual guide to those visiting, and why would a speculative house-builder not? Could even an object as simple as a map be prone to ideological coding, infused with notions of individualism and collective space? Or maybe it's just the relation to the street, the coding of mass housing in named blocks (oh, and what names they have!) as opposed to houses off a street, numbered according to a universal system.
Well, luckily for the populace, Keith Coventry has been painting these for a while now. We've just missed an exhibition of his, but I'm not sure there's much to find on the canvases themselves that isn't graspable in a jpeg, in fact, just conceptualising the paintings may well have been enough.