A new solo exhibition byIlona Sagar opens this week, titled Mute Rehearsal and running at Vitrine Bermondsey Square from September 23 to October 31, with a private view and performance on September 22.
The London-based artist opens the show with a new experimental installation comprised of sound, text, photography and performance culled from her examination of online communities like fitness blogging set up to ‘help’ women become more empowered and act ‘acceptable’.
Exploring the relationship between bodies, surfaces and the processes of displacement through their manifestation in design and speech, Sagar zeroes in our cultural obsession with women’s bodies —how they move and how they speak.
Its title is taken from a perfume the Dubai-born artist has produced especially for the show, described by Faramawy as “a translation of a video of vocaloid pop star Hatsune Miku dancing in a garden”. The intent is the translation of a Miku’s “hyperreal” image into an olfactory experience, taking scent as a sculptural form —”a presence without a body”.
The exhibition comes as an extension of Faramawy’s previous research on embodiment, representation and the effect of commercial forms on identity construction (you can read a review ofan earlier exhibition, HYDRA,here), and the perfume will be accompanied by an animated advert presented within the installation.
Vitrine Gallery’s Bermondsey Square space is a window display: white gallery walls behind full-height toughened glass windows. An unconventional space, it’s strangely appropriate for London-based artist Matt Welch, whose work is involved in the various interrelations between mass culture, subculture and the position of the subject within these structures. Unlike a conventional presentation, Welch leaves imperfections on the walls and glass – unfilled holes, excess filler and the residue of poor quality packing tape – showing decisions that have been made, changed and redacted. Rather than recalcitrant, these traces feel earnest, left there to bare subtle witness to the difficulty of the process of making and communicating honestly.
don’t we We run run things things?! takes its title from a line in Miley Cyrus’ ‘We Can’t Stop‘, which Welch has reordered into a stuttering query. It’s a question about autonomy, born from a bratty throwaway statement – “We run things, things don’t run we” – a rebellious attitude common in popular music, often attributed to the lineage of a punk ethos and aesthetic. Attempting to understand the social positioning of “counter-culture”, Welch acts as a researcher, bringing together seemingly disparate elements from contemporary and historical movements: online fetish videos, Nu Metal and proto-punk band Crass, alongside nods to arte povera, DIY culture and modernist sculpture.
A studwork construction at one end of the gallery – complete with touches of kitsch patterned packing tapes – sits somewhere between minimalist formalism and a support for a home-made skate ramp, whilst materially alluding to the anatomy of gallery walls but too structurally light to bare weight. A household roller blind hangs from the wall, its surface sliced a number of times and a Slipknot mask hanging from the chain. A literal gesture of “destruction” tied to a subcultural artefact, it becomes reminiscent of Cyrus-esque music video house party detritus, as well as bearing a striking resemblance to a Lucio Fontana slash painting. Alongside it is a video loop: a close-up shot of the “bubbles” being sliced out of Nike Air Max trainers with a utility knife.
Welch examines the catharsis we find in destruction, alongside the radical autonomy promised by DIY culture, both earnestly and objectively. On one hand there’s a sense of reminiscence; an understanding that the ideas of demolition and DIY, so often handed down to us through music, video or art, can feel liberating and empowering. But that is not to say that they hold revolutionary potential: Welch seems to recognise that these attitudes are now synthesised with late capitalism – we exercise our autonomy and dissent through the same structures that we think we are critiquing. The power of the avant garde – in its promise of newness and potential, catalyzed by adolescent rebellion – has mutated into the late capitalist desire for youth. Anti-authoritarianism turns to existentialism when the economic system sells you your own anarchist mantra: there is no authority but yourself.**
Canada-based artist Wil Murray is presenting his first UK solo exhibition Please Boss Remember Me at London’s VITRINE gallery, opening March 6 and running to April 12.
Working mainly in collage and painting, Murray’s approach to his work explores “painting’s relationship to time and object than the production of digital images for immediate consumption”. Building on his site-specific installation ‘Painted Shut’, he redevelops earlier paintings through “a series of time-rich processes”.
Whether a refreshing or reactionary response to a contemporary context, there’s something in an approach to image generation that ignores rather than engages with potentially problematic modern modes of production.
Based in London and Beirut respectively, the two artists explore the performativity of objects and display, while questioning the role of the individual as “as ‘the watcher’ and ‘the watched’”. Between Capaldi’s video and installation and Saadé’s wall based object work, WITNESS MATTER interrogates “the act of encountering object, body, performer, artist or artwork”.
Bermondsey’s Vitrine Gallery is presenting Berlin-based US artist Mia Goyette‘s first London solo show, The blues, you lose, opening November 28, running till January 15, 2014.
Coupling production with anti-production, Goyette explores a potential future by creating a “hybrid landscape” from the detritus of human consumption. Working across materials, her installation ‘Antifreeze (Fortified Flower Vases)’ arranges fake flowers, electrical wires and resin casts of consumer goods to repurpose the apparent waste that then acts as a “cipher for our own fading youth”.