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Big Eyes, Small Windows

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This idiosyncratic collection of texts and photo-works by the Dutch artist Niek Kemps is sometimes rewarding. His goal, in his editors' words, is ambitious: 'new ways of thinking about art and society'. Kemps' premise is the time-honoured one that in the familiar lurks the 'new and unforeseeable'; if we shake off habits of sight and thought and address the 'huge gaps in our consciousness' - 'Emmenthal consciousness'.

The texts include 'conversations' for an indeterminate number of voices (leaving readers to situate themselves intellectually) as well as more orthodox brief essays on, for instance, industrial architecture (a positive appreciation of Peter Latz's Duisburg-Nord park) and landscape (the Generalife gardens of the Alhambra resembling 'a green palace without a roof'). Kemps is critical of obtrusive design in museum displays and of museum buildings that 'force themselves upon the world'; what we need instead are 'places that serve as shelters, sites of tranquillity,' he argues.

In relating him to Robert Smithson, however, the editors accidentally point to Kemps' limitations - he simply doesn't have Smithson's insight and originality. And the interspersed photo-works, usually reliant on the superimposition of two or more images, soon begin to pall.

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