Magazine: Issue 26
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Review No 2: Mouthfeel
Review: Enclosure, Danielle Arnaud There is the kind of art that can easily be imagined hanging on the wall of your house or flat, then there is art which apparently belongs only in galleries. However, a visit to Danielle Arnaud’s gallery on Kennington Road suggests that this distinction is unnecessary. Danielle Arnaud’s gallery is located in her large and beautifully kept, but otherwise perfectly normal, house. Most of us have pictures at home. Whether they’re paintings, photos, prints or posters and whether they arrived in the house as presents, on postcards or bought from galleries; to own pictures seems to be accepted as being utterly natural. But, for the majority of people, it is a lot harder to imagine owning an installation or a piece of video art. What would you do with it? Where would it go? Would it be playing constantly for my own enjoyment or would I just switch it on when I want to impress some guests? Admittedly this is not a problem that plagues a huge number of people, but its implications are worth thinking about. As often as we may visit galleries, our most frequent encounters with works of art take place in domestic settings. It is so normal to see pictures on the walls of our homes that they largely go unnoticed. To own a piece of installation art is generally considered to be the preserve of the super-rich, or if you’re not a member of that group it requires some serious dedication; not least the sacrifice of a certain amount of your living space. As a consequence, video and installation, even sculpture to some extent, are considered to belong to an altogether different category than painting and photography. In fact, three possible categories spring to mind; • Pictures that you can decorate your living-room with • Works that may need some maintenance, perhaps they need to be dusted once in a while; sculptures etc • Works that need to be in a gallery to be properly appreciated, i.e. installation But, of course, these are totally artificial distinctions. Fundamentally, there is nothing to stop anyone from putting a piece of installation art where a print might otherwise go. And this is what Danielle Arnaud demonstrates. The most recent exhibition in the gallery, Enclosure, includes work from each of the above categories, and plenty that doesn’t fit easily into any. In the gallery’s entrance hall, Gabriela Schutz’s Your 5 a Day plays with repetition amusingly, and manages to make its rather quotidian subject matter quite beautiful. Elsewhere, Stephen Walter’s map Nova Utopia imagines Thomas More’s Utopia of 1516 as it might exist today, having undergone a radical free-market revolution. Enclosure also affords us a look at some of Walter’s less widely exhibited drawings. Meanwhile in an upstairs room, Marion Coutts’ installation with a slide projector shows us what it’s really like to have some installation art in a domestic setting. In fact, this work really benefits from being shown in such a domestic space. It is clear on visiting the gallery that Danielle Arnaud is rigorous and determined in building long-term relationships with each of the artists she exhibits. And this should serve as a good example to anyone interested in having art in their home. Whether print, sculpture or installation; the medium is not as important as the relationship that we have with our art. The lesson here is that the art we have in our homes shouldn’t go unnoticed or unremarked upon. George Major Courtesy of the artist & Danielle Arnaud
Spotlight: Bermondsey
This month SLAM will be directing your eyes over to the amazing spaces in Bermondsey. The hub has a vast range of interesting and diverse spots, often occupying territories with a history of previous functions where the architecture can be just as enthralling as the art on display. Bordered by the Thames and just a short hop from Peckham and Deptford, Bermondsey has some great potential for new discoveries just waiting to be unearthed. We thought we’d take you round a couple of locations to give you a hint of the fun to be had in two starkly different shows. The gallery interior with 5 works showing, from left to right, are:UNITED TO SERVE (2014) Wall drawing in green, blue, red THE WORLD ISN'T WORKING (2008/2014) Wall drawing LOVE & WORK (2012) Loop (on TV monitor)UP! (2012) Loop (on TV monitor) HANDS MUST MIND MUST WORK (2014) Partially erased wall drawing In Southwark park finding CPG Gallery is quite a discovery. Housed in two locations across the park, the spaces make for a great contrast in context, the Dilston Grove space a former church whilst the Cafe Gallery feels like a step into a serene calm in the middle of the park. On view Mark Titchner continues his powerful oeuvre of attention grabbing slogans, mesmeric patterning and a general all encompassing experience. At the Dilston Grove space 4 large scale projections squeeze the viewer into a hypnotic slot within the vast space. The work flickers with slogans bordering on self improvement, always directed at ‘you’, yet slightly sinister. The projections throb with cliches of expansion and freedom, endless skies ooze over the screens, reminiscent in a way of the video to Soundgarden’s ‘Black Hole Sun’. Everything here borders a fine line between joyous and creepy, and the setting works only to reinforce this ‘religiosity’ effect, the preacher as the screens, the sermon in a way nonsensical and at times becoming neutrally eerie. Accompanying the work is an incesent drone which traps the viewer, slowing down the pace and lulling you into a mental abyss where you find yourself thinking but not thinking. Void yet with just enough awareness. Over at the Cafe Gallery is a more ‘classic’ Titchner showcase with vast patternation and slogan laden wall pieces. The works here feel like lifeless commercials, selling nothing, yet with an overwhelming reverberation within the space that grabs and holds you. The patterning spirals in between references to islamic art, heavy metal and gothic, with a mixture of other influences dripping between the works. This melting of cultures and references feeds Titchner’s work with a sense of awe, and equally and awe-like confusion. Titchner’s works often feel like noise, non-specific noise, accidentally annoying and seductive at the same time, ready to lure anyone in who will hold its gaze for long enough. Three wall-mounted sculptures, L-R:YOURS MADE MINE MADE YOURSTRUTH TIME WORK TIME TRUTHFAITH LEADS FEAR LEADS FAITH - all 2013, burnt wood and aluminium gilding Vulpes Vulpes is an odd little space hidden away in the midst of Bermondsey. Part railway arch, part shop-front. The space itself feels like an adventure, slightly off the beaten track and quietly residing between a housing estate and railway track. On show Keef Winter and Katie Surridge present a series of monuments, dead of function yet with an intricacy of details that forces you to question past lives or previous iterations of these odd relics. The combinations of materials slips naturally between the freshly modern and the worn or dated. LED lights plunge into puddles of murky water, pill capsules hover over the surface of objects. Yet this fusing never feels forced. As if the miscellanea sat comfortably together in past lives as it does now. The main space has a vastness that works well with the ‘deadened machinery’. A bouncing chandelier hovers ominously inside a glass case, the overhead trains rumbling past give the works a shudder every now and again, it’s fun and playful yet with a slight eeriness. Standing tall beside this is a large wooden monolith, jutting skywards to the arch roof. The work feels like failed power. Not quite there, or a skeletal body for something more complex. The works in the show are dripping with potential, you’ve just got to use your imagination and it can open up a whole new level Dean Brierley
Review: Enclosure
Review: Mouthfeel Gasworks, 155 Vauxhall Street London SE11 5RH 21 March 2014 - 18 May 2014 Open: Wed-Sun, 12-6pm The politics of the food industry and failed experiments in branding come under the scrutiny of Maryam Jafri’s research-driven practice that combines moving image and photo-text works. Gasworks Billboard for Mouthfeel by Maryam Jafri, 2014. Photo: Richard Forbes-Hamilton Maryam Jafri’s current exhibition at Gasworks - ‘Mouthfeel’ - which is also her first UK solo show, takes the food industry and its relationship with global capital as its starting point. Her previous works examined everything from image banks and copyright issues (Getty vs. Ghana, 2012), the representation of postcolonial identities (Independence Day 1936-1967, 2009-present) or labour and commodities in the global economy (Avalon, 2011). But perhaps what is specific about Jafri’s practice is the narrative thread that runs through her works. Whether she selects her material from archival photographs, advertising or factual reality, Jafri’s literary background informs her practice. Maryam Jafri, Mouthfeel, 2014, 21:34 min, 2K HD video with sound. Courtesy the artist The two-part exhibition presents different aspects of the food industry and its associated branding. The first room showcases a Product Recall: An Index of Innovation, a photo-text work which highlights failed experiments in brand revamping and merging, while the second room features Mouthfeel, Jafri’s recent short film. A sharp and witty dialogue between a married couple in the back of a limousine, interspersed with overly-polished commercials, sets the tone for an investigation into the politics of the food industry. A scientist (played by Jafri) is starting to question the ethical implications of her job, while her husband, a brand manager for the same food company, advocates for the profit principle. Their brief exchanges are punctuated by the glossy images and idealistic messages of global advertising, referencing the interrupted narrative flow of a television programme. Jafri thus consciously plays with our habits of media consumption, presenting failed brands or highly-polished moving image work disrupted by pixelated and embarrassingly utopian advertising. Overall, Jafri manages to reveal some of the hidden issues of the food industry, through fast-paced dialogue, appropriated media images and meticulous investigations, avoiding the sometimes didactic ventures of artistic research. Maryam Jafri, Mouthfeel, 2014. 21:34 min, 2K HD video with sound. Mouthfeel exhibition installation view at Gasworks, 2014. Courtesy the artist. Photo: Richard Forbes-Hamilton Lecture-Performance and Presentation: Maryam Jafri and Liz Moor on Branding
Tuesday 13 May, 7pm 
Maryam Jafri presents a new lecture-performance stemming from her research on international forms of television advertising and Liz Moor, Senior Lecturer in Media and Communications at Goldsmiths, University of London, and author of The Rise of Brands (Berg, 2007) presents her research on the emergence of the branding industry. Simina Neagu Maryam Jafri, Product Recall: An Index of Innovation (detail), 2014. Mouthfeel exhibition installation view at Gasworks, 2014. Photo: Richard Forbes-Hamilton
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