Daniel Lehan Fears

Daniel Lehan Fears . . . formed part of NierghtravAOnWint’sIf A Teller: a book in 8 chapters and 4 dimensions, edited by Simon Lewandowski for the 24 Seven Curator’s Project, Gooden Gallery.

Daniel Lehan Fears . . . was made in response to the previous ‘chapter’ installed by Wayne Clements - The Mystery Bethnal Green Walk - and by part of a text from Gulliver’s Travels: 'For it is plain, that every word we speak is, in some degree, a diminution of our lungs by corrosion, and, consequently, contributes to the shortening of our lives.'

Review of Daniel Lehan Fears . . . by Nicholas and Wiebke Morgan :

Some re-arrangement of text and objects, a masking or erasure, some blue handwriting ….. Daniel Lehan’s ‘chapter’ has a lightness of touch and economy of means typical of the artist, adding to the developing narrative nothing more substantial than the physical presence of a thought.

As often with Lehan, the artist is foregrounded in the work - the piece is essentially a description of a psychological, linguistic performance. Also characteristic is the piece’s nature as a direct address, of varying degrees of ambiguity, to a notional viewer/reader. There is a similarly complex relation to notions of authenticity as there was in the artist’s ‘BOAST’ (a ‘sandwich board’ performance piece in which Lehan paraded outlandish artworld claims around the streets of the East End, collecting, Pied Piper-like, a small troop of followers as he went). The statements made in ‘Daniel Lehan Fears . . .’ seem to be untrue, they’re certainly unlikely, yet as they really only concern the artist’s own thoughts and states of mind it’s impossible to know for sure. As with ‘BOAST’, the assertions made are such as to largely preclude that they are ‘really’ being made by the artist himself, yet rather than distancing himself from them, Lehan playfully emphasizes his ‘ownership’ of them by giving his name to the subject of the sentences making up his narrative. Again, where his use of a given, effectively ‘found’, set of lettering might produce a distancing effect, Lehan undercuts this by introducing handwritten text.

Is there too much discussion, interpretation, of art, is art-going too much of a social activity, is it all too serious ? In ‘Daniel Lehan Fears . . . ’ the artist suggests we add art-talk to the list of smoking, drinking, drug-taking, living in Tower Hamlets or Hackney (as opposed to Chelsea), over-eating travelling by car, choosing not to learn to swim, as life-endangering actions, claiming to have placed in the viewer’s life something as potentially fatal as the videotape in Hideo Nakata’s ‘Ring’ films - watch that and you shorten your life (considerably), talk about this work and you shorten your life (to an unknown extent). And yet the effect of the piece is actually to elicit a consideration of art’s value, and then its affirmation, as the undoubted majority of viewers decide to risk their lives and hazard a comment or two (as we did).

Daniel Lehan Fears: Artworks

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