YORK Art Gallery needs to fill a £10,000 hole in order to bring seven more holes to the Artists Garden behind Exhibition Square.
The gallery is launching a crowdfunding campaign through the Art Fund's Art Happens platform to secure the garden's transformation into a fully playable mini golf course with each crazy hole designed by a different contemporary artist, chosen by course creator Doug Fishbone, a New York artist now living in London's East End, where his father grew up.
Doug Fishbone's Leisure Land Golf, his cutting-edge, interactive installation with political, ecological and cultural messages, will take up residence in York from June 2 to September 23, but only if £10,000 is raised by the March 23 deadline, less than a month from now.
Doug Fishbone's SOS golf hole with his model of the ill-fated Costa Concordia cruise ship
“I'm looking forward to working on this campaign to bring Leisure Land Golf to York," says Fishbone. "The Artists Garden is a beautiful and unique space that would provide a fantastic backdrop to the artworks, which hopefully will connect visitors with important cultural topics such as migration, global warming, globalisation, consumerism and leisure.
"I really hope the campaign is successful and that the course becomes a fun, interesting and thought-provoking addition to the gardens over the summer months”
Laura Turner, senior curator of art at York Art Gallery, adds: “Leisure Land Golf is such an interesting and innovative artwork which we would love to bring to York. The 'crazy golf' course offers an accessible and interactive way of engaging with contemporary works of art by highly respected international artists. We think it would be a very popular and fun installation for the Artists Garden this summer.”
Leisure Land Golf, featuring Turner Prize nominee Yinka Shonibare and John Akomfrah among others, was first shown in a boatyard at the #56 Venice Biennale in 2015, since when the holes have reappeared last year in Nottingham and Derby, alongside a newly commissioned extra hole.
Fishbone's touring installation was commissioned originally by EM15, a collective of arts organisations from the East Midlands, and is being toured by Nottingham's New Art Exchange. The seven holes planned for the York course are by the aforementioned Fishbone, Shonibare and Akomfrah, along with Hetain Patel, Ellie Harrison, Eyal and Ines Weizman and Nottingham collective Reactor.
Hetain Patel's Coloured Processor
The course can take a leisurely 15 to 20 minutes to play, and while "it's fine just to play through and not read the artists' comments on their work, the game has a cultural sting to it if you do read them," advises Fishbone.
His own work SOS, for example, depicts the ill-fated Costa Concordia, the cruise ship driven on to the rocks off the coast of Tuscany by its captain. "He was cavorting on the bridge with a beautiful young woman at the time of impact," says Fishbone. "As the disaster unfolded, he promptly abandoned ship, leaving his passengers to fend for themselves.
"Like few other symbols, the modern cruise ship embodies the messy contradictions at work in capitalism’s production and delivery of the leisure experience: rigid class divisions; out-of touch leadership that falls apart in a crisis; offshore set-ups designed to dodge the tax man; indifference to its workers and to its impact on the environment. The whole arrangement is funded by money freely paid, from people needing a holiday and unaware what such voyages actually drag in their wake, or perhaps they are just unconcerned.
How did Italians react to his golf hole featuring a fabricated Costa Concordia on its side? "When I installed it in Venice, I was worried that people would take offence but instead they stood there cursing the captain," recalls Doug.
So, £10,000 must be raised by March 23 for a mini golf course with messages to exercise the mind. Sounds crazy or are you game? Go to it, York.
Doug Fishbone with Laura Turner, York Art Gallery's senior curator of art
What will the fund-raising involve?
HOW will the funds be raised to turn the Artists Garden into Doug Fishbone's Leisure Land Golf, a "playful and tactile environment that takes visitors on an amusing and thought-provoking journey as they navigate the course"?
York Art Gallery has teamed up with Fishbone to offer a range of bespoke rewards for those who support the project, ranging from tote bags and prints to an invitation to an exclusive evening private view and a round of crazy golf with Fishbone himself. To play the course will cost £3, but most rewards include a free round of golf. To see all the rewards and to donate, please go to artfund.org/art-happens.
"We're trying to make it a fun way to raise the funds, so if someone would like me to be their caddy for a round, that would be great, though hopefully I won't get asked to clean anyone's house," says Fishbone.
The seven crazy holes and their not so crazy messages
John Akomfrah's The Turkey Shoot Galactico
Akomfrah examines the mediated images of death, in particular of unarmed African Americans shot by police in the United States in recent years, where the hoodie, the ubiquitous costume of the disenfranchised youth, becomes a threat to the status quo. "Akomfrah puts the player in the position of the shooter aiming at a kneeling teenager, and it asks the question, 'Where do you stand in relation to these issues in modern society," says Fishbone.
Doug Fishbone's SOS
Fishbone depicts the ill-fated Costa Concordia, the cruise ship driven on to the rocks off the coast of Tuscany by its captain, who was cavorting on the bridge with a beautiful young woman at the time of impact.
Ellie Harrison's Life Raft
Harrison speculates that by being an island state, Great Britain is likely to remain temperate as global temperatures continue to rise and many parts of the world become uninhabitable. The indirect impact on Britain could be a massive influx of “climate refugees”, she says, making the current backlash and animosity towards immigrants in Europe seem trivial. "The point of her piece is that you start in one place and end up in another," says Fishbone.
John Akomfrah's The Turkey Shoot Galactico
Yinka Shonibare's Football Cloud
Shonibare explores the complexity of contemporary African identity and power relations between the West and Africa. His football pitch becomes a site for the struggle for economic survival, played out by the African football player for both himself and his team. This tension is represented by a mushroom cloud of footballs decorated with Shonibare’s signature African textiles.
Hetain Patel's Coloured Processor
Patel's squatting figure exhibits a characteristic posture of India that is only adopted by the working and lower classes. The displacement of this posture to Europe in a game of mini golf – itself a working-class leisure activity – frames industrial cultural exchange, specifically production lines involved in import/export.
Eyal and Ines Weizman's The Bridge Of Konigsberg
The Weizmans present an abstracted scale model of Kaliningrad, formerly known as Konigsberg, a city in Russia connected by seven bridges over the River Pregel. The aim of the game, based on the mathematical conundrum of the Seven Bridges of Konigsberg, is to return to your starting point by playing the ball across each bridge once only, a seemingly impossible task.
The problem was unwittingly solved by RAF bombers during the last months of the Second World War, who made the route navigable by demolishing two of the original bridges.
Nottingham artist collective Reactor
Reactor's hole was created for Leisure Land Golf at the new Art Exchange in Nottingham. Unlike most miniature golfing greens, where depictions of the world are pared down to miniature size, the other sculptures on Reactor’s green are crudely scaled up, turning unassuming and everyday objects into hazards for players to overcome.