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Sean Kerr

Fucked

2008
cast resin, edition of 2
215mm x 165mm x 130mm

Provenance

Private collection, Auckland.

Essay

I got this hilarious email from the Govett-Brewster [Gallery] saying “The bucket is not working, the ghost is not working, the fart is not working...

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Estimate $500 - $800

Sean Kerr

Fucked

2008

cast resin, edition of 2

215mm x 165mm x 130mm

Auction N˚7

Estimate $500 - $800

Footnotes

1        Jon Bywater, “Chucking Pies, Pissing on Velvet,” in Sean Kerr, Bruce is in the garden; so someone is in the garden (Auckland: Clouds, 2010), 35.

2        Tobias Berger and Sean Kerr, “The Illusion of Pissing in the Corner,” in ibid., 24.

3        Emma Bugden, “Shit Shit Shit,” ibid. 54.

Bad Language

by Andrew Clark

I got this hilarious email from the Govett-Brewster [Gallery] saying “The bucket is not working, the ghost is not working, the fart is not working” and so on. When things break down it can be very funny.
—Sean Kerr

In the work of Sean Kerr, comedy and tragedy are never far apart. As Jon Bywater perceptively notes, the most interesting thing about Kerr’s use of humour in his art is “the possibility that these works are not actually that funny.”¹ When we are confronted by a work like Fucked (2008), our initial response might be a laugh or a snort, a quick, base-level response to humour generated solely from the unexpected encounter with an everyday profanity in a fine arts context. The (intentional) flaw running through the resin pour is part of the joke, too—as an artwork, the object is, itself, “fucked,” but then again, it was doomed from the start.

However, the real joke is uncovered when we think through the steps that Kerr took to get us to this point: making a mould, pouring and curing resin, finishing and cleaning his work, placing it in a gallery. . . all to deliver such a damp squib of a punchline. Of course, Kerr has a definite agenda: his work is an investigation of the often-proscriptive boundaries and conventions that regulate fine arts discourse and gallery practice. In particular, Kerr has an axe to grind with the modernist canon, and especially with how the ongoing art historical focus on figures like Colin McCahon and Ralph Hotere draws attention away from other strands of artistic discourse in New Zealand. As influences, Kerr prefers to cite international figures such as Bruce Nauman and Vito Acconci, but also New Zealand performance artists such as Bruce Barber, Peter Roche and Phil Dadson, and postmodernists like Billy Apple.²