New York’s Real Fine Arts gallery host group show, Real Fine Arts Presents opening March 2 and running to March 6.
There is little information given with the announcement of the event apart from a whole host of artists’ names and that it will take place in 809 Washington Street, just down from the Whitney, and inside what was previously OWENS, a designer boutique with low ceilings and brickwork walls.
The organisers of large group show, System of a Down wanted to fit a different place into the space of Dublin’s Ellis King. They drew a plan based on St Patrick’s Cathedral, and laid it over the plan of space and made new, imaginary rooms. From there, and during the week-long installation process, the press release tells, Francisco Cordero-Oceguera, Emanuele Marcuccio (both of whom also made work for the show), Pierre-Alexandre Mateos, Michele D’Aurizio and Charles Teyssou brought in some screens, scaffolding, monitors and projections. From there, artworks have been clustered together.
The show, which presents 47 works by 27 artists including Morag Keil, Puppies Puppies and Cindie Cheung has formed its meaning as it has physically unfolded. A bit like trying to work out a living space or a large communal house, decisions have been taken based on things contained inside the walls of the gallery, rubbing against one another, and also inside the invisible walls of the conflicting imagined architecture. The press release emphasises that a large part of the exhibition, which runs September 12 to October 17 is about the “inevitable aesthetic sensibilities of each organiser”, something that combined with the bizarre self-restricting and yet non-existent physical framework of the show’s interior calls into question the role and power of the curator. Joining up the dots seems difficult here, importantly.
Many of the works selected for the organisers to shape are maybe like dots themselves –as opposed to dots being micro-themes and curatorial agendas. The most striking and tender piece is ‘Table Work’ (2011 – 14) by Yugi Agematsu. Five cupcake wrappers are laid out open like flowers sat strangely apart from each other on a low table but definitely held together –not least by their colour range which goes from cream (vanilla?) to bright red (strawberry…). Another by Vito Acconci arranges three drawings of the same scenario: a car being born out of a boat, or a boat being born out of a car and flying into the sea, or flying out of the sea. These works are mini assemblages and require within them a formation. Quasar Kahn’s inflatable ceiling light sits on the floor, while Morag Keil and Nicolas Ceccaldi’s piece, ‘Garbage World’ (2010) features “fake birds” perched on the edge of a bin full of fake rubbish. Jason Benson and Erin Jane Nelson‘s vertical and fragile assemblages called ‘Bpuschy1’ and ‘2’ maybe capture System of a Down best via their hanging yet “emphatically woven junk”. **
Each gallery will present a two-week long show in [ space ]’s Annexe gallery, kicking off with Piper Keys, who brings a three-artist group show with Roger Ackling, Keith Farquhar and Lucy Stein, running from February 7 to February 22.
Almost as soon as Piper Keys’ show wraps up, Life Gallery takes over the space with There’s No Space in Space, a group show with Morag Keil, Caspar Heinemann and Kimmo Modig, running from February 26 to March 15, followed by Berlin’s The Duck, which will host a larger group show titled ‚dm‘, with artists Hélène Fauquet, Nik Geene, Stuart Middleton, Naomi Pearce, Eidflo, Ellie de Verdier, Ryan Siegan Smith, and Veit Laurent Kurz, and running from March 19 to April 5.
Ten minutes walk from Project Native Informant’s converted garage project space in Mayfair is luxury department store Liberty. Opened in 1875 by Arthur Lasenby Liberty, over the past 140 years it has become a global household name, selling high-end homeware and fashion brands alongside its own-brand products. It has a history of working with notable designers like William Morris and Archibald Knox, and has been an important site for the advancement of design in the UK. The Liberty building on Great Marlborough Street is itself an iconic location – built in the 1920s in a Tudor revival style it’s an instantly recognisable building, and a London shopping landmark. It’s not cheap, though. Sitting somewhere between couture and high-end high street, it caters to a particular strata of the rich.
In L.I.B.E.R.T.Y.Morag Keil has transposed the mock Tudor facade of the department store into the gallery. Each wall is decorated with strips of black half-timbering – appropriately treated, carefully cut and professionally attached. It’s a slightly disorientating experience, the framing exists as a relief whilst shifting the reading of the entire space with its specificity. We’re suddenly enclosed within a form that suggests an exterior – the facade of Liberty is wherever you look. We are trapped outside, inside, with no way to access what’s behind the walls.
In the corner of the gallery are two Windsor chairs painted with copper paint and splashed green with oxidation. Arranged like in a waiting room they hold copies of the exhibition text – an interview with Keil by Harry Burke. Titled Can you live in art? it’s conducted in a 20-questions format, like an unedited magazine lifestyle interview, informal but professional. They discuss Keil’s recent work, as well as her approaches and ideas on the art world and the state of contemporary living. One answer is conspicuous in its absence, there’s simply blank space in response to, “Do you have a social art practice or a formal art practice?”
The ideas sold about freedom in contemporary living constitute a deceptive ideology: ostensibly defined as the increase in flexibility, our lives mainly manifest as precarious and alienated, despite how much money we might accumulate. Keil shows us Liberty as a site where the galvanisation of this ideology is exceptionally evident. It’s a brand that flourishes largely because of suggestions of its own historic importance. It deals in adornments, designs and fashion – the materials and objects that furnish our lives and act as signs that distinguish our relative level of success under capitalism. The precarity of contemporary living means we will never fully achieve the freedom that owning an item from Liberty might suggest we have. In Keil’s L.I.B.E.R.T.Y. we are allowed to step in, to be immersed in the signs of heritage, but never allowed real access. **