Friday 19 May 1995
Fancy a flutter? Bet you do. Britons, so we are told, are now Europe's biggest nation of gamblers, spending some pounds 60m a week on the lottery alone. Art always mirrors reality, and, sure enough, this week a quorum of young British artists set up shop at the Barbican in "The Art Casino", a celebration of the art of getting rich quick. Most familiar of the works on show will be the video made by Mark Wallinger, currently exhibiting at the Serpentine. In agonizing detail he tells the tragic tale of his conceptual creation, the famously unsuccessful racehorse "A Real Work of Art" - a persistent non-starter from last year's flat season. Other highlights include Laura Ford's surprising fruit machines, Hugo Glendinning's life-size photographs (Tilda Swinton, left) and a performance by David Izod in which the artist reveals the secrets of his previous life as a casino croupier. It's all very light-hearted. But what of the reality of the helplessly addicted gambler, the squandered pay-packet, the broken marriage? It seems that here, as so often in contemporary art, the deeper implications may have been passed over. As art this is disappointing. But it might be fun if you can't afford a day at the races. It's telling that the show should be sponsored by bookmakers William Hill. Ten-to-one you come away having learnt at least one lesson: the bookies always win. Rien ne va plus.
The Art Casino is at the Barbican Art Gallery, EC2 19-21 May (0171-588 9023)
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