Alt Pop: Jacques Coetzer




Coetzer described Alt Pop to me as ‘mid-life crisis retrospective blah blah’, laconically epitomized by the polyurethane Mid-Life Surfer, but which I think is rather disingenuously dismissive of a rather remarkable project. Whatever the content of the exhibition, his choice to curate himself in a publication that tracks biography’s influence on production (and vice versa) demonstrates a fairly seamless and convincing imbrication of the stuff-and-nonsense of life with the stuff-and-substance of art.


So this is an exhibition in a book, for which the artist’s own commentary offers a ‘walkabout’ in written form that you can’t say you missed because you had something else on. In the process of conceptualising and curating a monograph – which is essentially how I think about publishing visual art on pages between covers – you’re faced with the daunting task of editing. And if editing isn’t tricky enough, it is made infinitely more difficult when the subject is yourself and your attendant ego. What to include? What to leave out? Can one really be an effective self-editor or is hagiography inevitable?

Alt Pop enters at the appropriate register. It is self-reflexive, absolutely self-aware, and perhaps mildly indulgent. It is vulnerable yet brash. This honest, no-nonsense sensibility is refreshing, engaging in the processes of conceptualising visual works while suggesting the parallel narratives of the broader social, political, cultural and economic conditions that inform the work. Market Segmentation’s ‘unity in diversity’ model where fracture and elision is part of the structure is a natural extension of his primary school Hotel and Hostel drawing; and Wave of Prosperity could be the ‘graphic equalizer’ display of Rock Steady.