David Shrigley: Mayfair Tennis Ball Exchange
David Shrigley’s exhibition at Stephen Friedman is balls, and though the title teases, anything but tennis.
The emphasis in Mayfair Tennis Ball Exchange falls hardest on the last word. Through creator / viewer there is always dialogue when encountering art. Here Shrigley tantalisingly celebrates, in the most literal way, the joy of trade.
Installing several kilometres of shelving that fills the gallery with thousands of (brand new) tennis balls, Shrigley invites attendees to bring pre-loved examples and replace what’s there. Gradually, the space becomes less Novak Djokovic’s store cupboard and instead an ever-changing cache; spent, decaying and cheeky.
Each participant is further rewarded with a Mayfair Tennis Ball Exchange pin badge, in the artist’s distinct handwriting. A lapel-ready emblem of this exclusive open club.
For Shrigley, a treasure whose mischievous drawings are recognised by even those unsure of his name, there’s likely the thrill of being able to take something from the shelf in the smartest part of town and not pay for it. Something that, were it to be done on Bond Street, would come with a free stay in a police cell (and the ride in the car there).
Furthermore disrupting formal hierarchies, Shrigley has also installed a large digital clock in the manner of those found at train stations or airports. Viewable from the street, while accurate in terms of timekeeping, it is illegible – grandly so – presented absurdly out of focus.
“My dog likes tennis balls,” explains Shrigley, discussing the work. “I throw them and she chases them. [Her interest is] more about exchange than possession.”
With that, Shrigley might have created the best exhibition ever – for canines.
Mayfair Tennis Ball Exchange, until January 8 2022 at Stephen Friedman Gallery 25-28 and 11 Old Burlington St, W1S