Monday 29 March 2010

Curtain show

Curtain show was exhibited at Eastside projects an artist run space in Birmingham. Ines Schaber had produced a scenario much like that in which I display my own curtains. Her Diabolic tenant 2007 is inspired by the design collaboration between Lilly Reich and Mies van der Rohe and comprises a curtain and a blind that speak to each other through an audiospeaker. They discuss their relative positions and politics, revealing their different functions and the role of design in society. The blinds were male and the silk curtains female.

Grace Ndiritu’s Still life 2007 is a large area hung with curtains which are also depicted on four DVD monitors in small scenes with arms and legs protruding from them and then disappearing as if they were moving and alive. Albrecht Schafer had recreated, in stiff paper shapes stapled together, the fa├žade of the former Centrum department store in Berlin originally produced in aluminium based on a 1950s original by Egon Eiermann. Hannah James had produced a series of wide paper blinds printed with three dimensional triangular shapes.

Tuesday 23 March 2010

Gaea Todd

This exhibition at the Marsden Woo Gallery in London was guest curated by Tessa Peters and Janice West. I have been a keen follower of them since they curated the Uncanny Room in 2002 and was delighted to discover that they are guest curating a series of exhibitions at the Marsden Woo Project Space.

This exhibition of Gaea Todd’s glass work dealt with boundaries and transgression. She takes her inspiration from Mary Douglas and Julia Kristeva, so I found it particularly interesting. The pieces all included the movement of fluids, such as blood, milk, urine or tears, either literally or symbolically. I thought the piece that worked best was the two occasional chairs in the small installation of ‘In vino veritas’ with glass appearing to pour through the seat and onto the floor as if the occupants had melted and seeped through the seat to form a pool of bodily fluids on the floor. I felt the movement of actual fluids on the mirror in the same piece worked less well because the glass had obviously been applied to the mirror and did not seem to emanate from it.

The same criticism could be made of ‘Study 4’. The idea of the walls weeping blood (or in this case molasses) was brilliant but the glass did not seem to come out of the walls merely to be attached to them. I thought ‘Reverberations’ was much more effective with the glass rods sprouting out of the walls themselves and dripping blood. The rope ladder made of hair was also uncanny and the delicate glass rods containing ‘milk’ forming the rungs was very clever. They offered the tantalising promise of escape but reason told you they would be ineffective and splinter as soon as they were touched like a broken spell.

Sunday 7 March 2010

Eva Hesse

This exhibition at the Camden Arts Centre showed some of Eva Hesse’s studiowrok so there were no finished pieces mainly experiments and test pieces. The pieces that interested me the most were her hangings. She made a series of them and displayed them as a piece called Contingent. They were made from cheesecloth dyed and immersed in latex to make them firmer. The test piece we saw was dyed yellow but some of the books available for study showed she also exhibited versions in natural colours. I also found the latex pieces incorporating tubes interesting and thought the bowl shapes made from paper were beautifully displayed on a large table with good lighting producing interesting shadows.

Chiharu Shiota

The Haunch of Venison is the venue for Chiharu Shiota’s first solo exhibition in the UK; I previously saw her work at the Hayward in the Walking in my Mind exhibition. The exhibition includes two site-specific works and earlier pieces all based on her ideas of homeland and identity.

The first room houses One place an installation of 400 reclaimed windows she found in demolition sites in Berlin. They are joined vertically to form two towering walls, spiralling in the shape of a shell with chairs at their centre. I was interested to read that the artist sees them as a metaphor for an opening and a barrier at the same time, in the same way I see my net curtains and that they represent claustrophobia.

The work in the second room also has resonance with my own work as it deals with consciousness, sleep and dreams. In During sleep, the artist has used black wool, as she did in the Hayward exhibition, to fill a room and enclose a bed in a tangle of threads representing the impenetrability of the dream state, leaving only a small tunnel through which the audience can walk through to the next room. The final room houses some smaller cubes entitled Trauma, containing children’s clothes, a brush and other items trapped or protected in a tangle of black threads. More of her work can be seen on her website

Henry Moore

This exhibition at Tate Britain focused on the work of Henry Moore from the 1920s to the 1960s. It was arranged into themes: mother and child; Modernism; wartime; post war; and elm. It was especially interesting to see some of his sketches and pages of drawing clearly showing how he developed his ideas from original drawing to finished sculpture. I had not realised that during his Modernist period he had been interested in the uncanny. During the 1930s he seemed to have been working on ideas related to imprisonment, claustrophobia and anxiety perhaps induced by the zeitgeist in these pre war times. Many of his sculptures from this period incorporate strings and wire that trap and separate areas in a lace-like manner. In the 1950s he also produced several helmet sculptures with veils that seem to trap the wearer. Apparently there are also programmes about him on the BBC archive website.