m-Health calms and rejuvenates you. The show, running at London’s Cell Project Space from July 25 to August 2, as a whole is an event that lasts for several days with physical works that feel like place-holders or mood-setters. It begins with a micro-event weekend of four presentations and performances by Norwegian artist Andreas Ervik, yoga and body-extension instructor, Mayan Patel and London based artists, Jonny JJ Winter and Hannah Lees, who give out individual sourdough balls in goody bags after a Sunday evening rooftop baking session.
In Cell Project Space’s main gallery space artist Ian Giles has painted the back wall in faded olive green and there are small ceramic bulb-like bowls with aromatherapy oils burning inside them producing tiny streams that float above the first bench in the show. You’re invited to sit there by the lovely invigilator who provides you with a glass of water when you do. The tiny streams fill the whole room. On the first Saturday during Ervik and Winters’ performances, the aromatherapy oils burn rejuvenating energy for one half of the day, for the second half they burn calming and slowing energy.
The second bench in the show is one you can’t sit on so easily, or at least it references those benches you find in the city: ones too short to fit a tired adult head and legs on; ones fitted out with spikes; ones that refuse any kind of respite. For m-Health, London-based artists Pablo Jones-Soler has set two handled pieces in concrete blocks. They actually look a bit like cots. It’s as though they’d been lifted straight off the road and into this art-spa. Conversely, they might have been those benches taken from a hypothetical ‘how-to-gentrify’ tool kit, set straight into the concrete outside a newly rejuvenated site.
This show, like most good ones, makes you think about things outside of the room, inside of your body and the implications of you, physically – particularly while sitting on Giles’ bench. It’s here that the amethyst in Hannah Lees’ cut up repurposed red wine barrels of ‘our life, that temporary eclipse to that other’ (2015) starts to work on you. Because according to ancient myth if one drinks alcohol whilst wearing amethyst close to any part of the body, the alcohol will not take hold. In other words, the inside of the body remains non-toxic.
As though to absorb the event of an art show preview inside a single-bodied artwork, Jonny JJ Winter’s handmade juice bar offers “~~_`~~” (drinks), inscribed in a non-language in mud on a menu hanging above the jigsawed wood. It exists around the back of the rest of the show where it stays: a mess untouched until the close of m-Health. Rotting – but local(!!) – blended fruit sits still after a week with stale olives. The reverse side of Giles’ olive green wall has had a mud face-mask but maybe one that is left too long. It’s crumbling. ‘Hangover Drink’ (2015), which is described by the artist as something “reverse spherified” and includes an “aggressively added pinch of watercress” could have been you, intoxicated on the inside trying to physically un-do the absorption.
The emphasis (and celebration) of local, immediate rawness is also calmly presented in SANKE, by Andreas Ervik. SANKE, meaning ‘to gather’ in Norwegian, is a brand that makes things like REGN, a perfume that smells like earth after a shower of summer rain, according to the website, where you can purchase items from the different ranges. For m-Health, and live all afternoon on that initial Saturday, Ervik presents and launches the new range alongside a slow, serene promo-video that is fixed to the wall elegantly. SANKE makes you think of the forest. That deep thought alone can work to re-configure something quite animal in you: a bit like when you take a proper and full breath, once in a while. It (the thought) feels a bit like the copper plate that oxidises and re-purifies – and turns bright blue – both Lees’ repurposed red wine barrels and the water inside them that holds Lees’ rush weeds, floating and alive.
Rachel Reupke provides the second calming video for m-Health. ‘Containing Matters of No Very Peaceable Colour’ (2009) introduces the feeling that bath towels hold in their absorbing softness an intense sense of the body, beautifully and strikingly. Played over the rolling pink hues of folded (stock image) towels is a soundtrack of a list of chanted Google hashtags:
“female”, “couples”, “domestic”, “flat”, “ages: 20-25 years”, “ages 25-30 years”, “one woman only”, “only one woman”, “family”, “family with two children” etc.
It’s as though the bath towel is Google and it hugs you as soon as you fit into the right category. Precious body. But also non-specific, it turns out, after you put the headphones down and consider that Google recital, playing on repeat beneath every commodity that’s for sale online.**
Exhibition photos, top right.