At Maddox Arts, 52 Brook's Mews, London W1K 4ED
I'll be at the gallery to take people round the show on Sat 9 May 11-12 am and Sat 6 June 2-3 pm
|Jen Harris and Liv Fontaine (who run the HA HA Gallery in Southampton)|
|Levi van Veluw, Nico Kos & Steph Carey-Kent|
|Me with Liv|
|Levi van Veluw, David Rickard and Carlos Noronha Feio|
|Ben Austin, Selma Parlour & Liz Elton|
|Uliana Apatina & Juliette Mahieux-Bartoli|
|Liv Fontaine performance - Plinth Piece|
|Post-performance Liv with Juliette|
|Pre-tour installation shot on 9 May|
Enough weight may also lead to collapse. Nietzsche worried about the possibility of Eternal Return, in which we’re doomed to repeat events for eternity, making existence a heavy burden, given the impossibility of escaping the cycle. Buddhism provides a potential way out of that by embracing the cycle, as does Milan Kundera when, assuming in contrast that such a cycle is impossible, he holds that 'life which disappears once and for all, which does not return is without weight...and whether it was horrible, beautiful, or sublime...means nothing'. Decisions are then 'light' - they do not tie us down - but meaningless and potentially empty. That isn’t entirely welcome either, hence the 'the unbearable lightness of being'. A more pragmatic view would be that we’re in the space between the baggage of the what's gone and the disintegration to come - but the interim phase may last a while yet, and we might as well enjoy it. Just so, there’s plenty of wit in these works, so I hope they raise interesting issues but also contribute to visitors enjoying a few minutes of the gap.
The hanging installation Ouroboros interlinks a series of weighing scales, each of which measures the cumulative weight of those below. With the lowest scale registering no weight the dials incrementally step around the face of successive scales up the height of the work as they weigh the increasing number of scales below them. Maddox’s 2.85m ceiling height allows for eight scales, such that the top one registers halfway round the 25 kg dial. That implies the self-reflexivity of the ancient symbol of a snake eating its own tail. You might think, incidentally, that 16 smaller scales would have completed the full cycle in the given height – allowing the physicists’ puzzle question: why is that not so?
Up, from the Manhattan Series, 2014 - Acrylic on canvas, 100 x 80 cm (nb substitute painting in exhibition due to a scratch)
Livia Marin presents objects from the series Nomad Patterns, in which the ceramic seems to have been arrested mid-melt, or knocked over only to spill instead of breaking, and then retained an improbable continuity of pastiche Chinese pattern. That poses questions of literal and metaphysical weight. Is that china or water? A destruction or a restoration? Casually playful or threatening instability? Our judgement is likely to be affected if we know that much of Marin’s work deals with breakage and repair in the context of seventeen years of oppressive dictatorship in her home country of Chile… Technically, by the way, Marin buys plain white vessels, smashes them, creates the spill, then paints the matching pattern across both.
Cipriano Martínez (born Caracas 1965, lives London)
Orthodrome, 2012 and - oil on canvas, 180 x 120 cm
Untitled (From the Series Colour Testing), 2013: oil on canvas, 180 x 180 cm
|Performance on 22 April|
It's the way of performances that they should take on a logic of their own, and Liv's half hour on 23 April certainly achieved that. Comments to me included:
'Does she need help?'
'Cruel and exploitative'
'I found myself drawn away from plinth and body towards the face the longer it went on...'
'Liv's performance aptly balanced aesthetic sensitivity with meaningful confrontation. It drew in art historical references of the nude and her objectifying podium, denounced that podium as burden through the evident effort of scraping across the floor, and used it as a weapon of confrontation (I was nearly pinned to a wall on the night of the opening!) as well as a compositional device (very obvious when 'paused'), thus anchoring this performance strongly in the visual tradition it is wryly critiquing.'
There's a fascinating account at http://blog.artlyst.com/the-artists-statement/this-is-not-a-plinth-anxiety-performance-and-the-weight-of-sharing in which Nico Kos says that 'there was a general confusion amongst the onlookers as to how they ought to react. It was closer to the theatre of cruelty Antonin Artaud than what we have come to expect from performance art, although it carried the same anxiety. Soon the voices around began to hum with indifference – interest in this woman as snail was fading. And perhaps this was the point – the disinterest of a crowd to a woman clearly mortifying herself for a reaction. The crowd decided they were finished and the performance, so sensational to begin with, ended without even an applause. However this fade of interest in the actual experience was diametrically opposed to the conversations that followed, in particular the sharing of iPhone video clips. It was like a rash spreading far and wide. To me – despite her obvious physical discomfort – it was an important visual milestone. Seeing a real, un-photo shopped, naked woman dragging around her own plinth made me feel a profound sadness about the representation of women today. Her paler than pale flesh more reminiscent of marble statues from another century became grey as she wormed her way round the gallery floor. This was anything but a celebration – she seemed also to be suffering with the burden of her own naked body. I wanted to go and pick her up, rip off what was binding her to the plinth, stand her up, and put her on it.
|Performance on 22 May with Liv's highly supportive mother Joyce nearest the camera!|