Somerset House, London
From Viz to the fourth plinth to David Bowie, the perennially upstart comic’s influence rampages on – and even our own Adrian Searle can’t get off scot-free
What should a critic do? I’m sure there must be rules: don’t take backhanders from galleries. Don’t get too intimate with artists, especially not dead ones. Declare any conflicts of interest (no conflict, no interest, I always say). Keep up to date and don’t be late, and wear black at all times. I could go on. The public expects certain standards, and a degree of aloof hauteur from the arbiter of taste – it adds gravitas and readers like a touch of disdain; it gives one’s judgments that extra little bit of critical oomph.
But what if the critic has somehow found themselves on the streets of Beanotown? The artist I’m up against is Dennis the Menace, straight out of the pages of the comic. Thanks to the Beano, and artist and curator Andy Holden, my carefully constructed critical persona has been for ever ruined. Drawn by the Beano’s Nigel Parkinson, my all-too-recognisable cartoon avatar has been inserted into the storyline of a Beano strip, reviewing the very exhibition I now find myself standing in.