Ryan Gander-attributed artwork attacked by arts administrator; Artwriter mistakes female performance artist for a tranny (2012)

Two more of today’s art professionals confess:


Confession #6: Here is my very embarrassing true confession.

Probably about 10 or 12 years ago, I was at a gallery opening in Manchester, England that included work by the then little known artist Ryan Gander, consisting of a piece of paper with a hole punched in the middle, propped up against the wall.

OK, fine, thought I, and turned to leave.

As I did so, my backpack caught on a long piece of red yarn that was hanging from the ceiling. I thought nothing of it, just a piece of thread annoyingly stuck to my backpack, and was about to brush it off when a young woman in incredibly pretentious thick-framed black spectacles shouted at me in horror, "Be careful, you’ll damage the artwork!"

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry so I laughed and walked out. I think that it may have been one of Ryan Gander’s early works as well, although "work" seems an inappropriate word for it.

Sometimes a piece of red yarn is only a piece of red yarn.


CERUSmedia Ceven Knowles candy coated crime
Cropped still from The Opiates’ Candy coated crime (Disco Bloodbath Remix) video, directed by Ceven Knowles / CERUSmedia, Berlin.


Confession #7: I remember about 14 years ago I arrived in an unfamiliar country and picked up an art brochure announcing an art performance with a publicity photo, sorry I mean "art documentation". The artist had a man’s name and it was a really camp photo in a totally camp setting, and I somehow became convinced that the artist was some sort of drag identity artist before Grayson Perry became really well-known.

So I called the press officer really keen on interviewing the "drag artist", rather excited as it was probably the last type of identity artist to be really put forward. At that time, she informed me that actually the artist was a woman, and in that country that name is also a woman’s name. I started laughing, I was caught out, but still expressed interest in interviewing the artist and plans were arranged.

At the performance, the press officer obviously informed the artist because the artist decided to inform the crowd of the mistaken gender identity at the very beginning! No one there knew who I was thankfully. So I thought, okay fair enough, this is a little payback.

Per the advice of the press officer whom I then met, I waited in the bar outside afterwards to interview the artist. Waiting. Still waiting. On my second drink. Then I saw the artist and her friend walk out of the theatre and look over at me, with disgust, turning their noses in the air, and walking straight towards the exit.

Then the press officer arrived informing that unfortunately the artist wasn’t feeling well and wouldn’t be available for the interview.

This was my first experience with frustrated, drama queen performance artists, setting the stage for a few more actually. I mean, listen lady, you’re walking around with a man’s name, you’re in a totally camp publicity photo on a minimal brochure with totally ambiguous information, and tranny identity art was really hot. Should it really surprise you that someone might misconnect your dots?

See more art world confessions: Candy-coated crimes: Arts professionals confess vs. Iggy Pop.

Read more: ADC staff; Ryan Gander