Sunday, 11 August 2013

Like A Monkey With A Miniature Cymbal

Whilst visiting Aid & Abet's show of perpetual loops Corinna Spencer meets Mrs Craven, who is passionate about her greenhouse, and a monkey that just won't give up.

Rhys Coren, Smile/Drop the base soundscape, 2013

All of the works in this show hold a sense of the continuous. Loops populate the gallery space, they are seen in film and paint, in sound and action, but in each instance, just before the loop becomes an exercise in futility, everything is transformed and filled with a sense of obsessive enjoyment. Paintings are worked over again and again and references are made to the heroic and to simple everyday endeavours.

The Green House (Printed pamphlet 2013) by Laura Reeves tells the story of the Cravens. Mr Craven is a keen, perhaps obsessive, amateur photographer and Mrs Craven is passionate about her greenhouse. Mrs Craven comments: 'As a gardener you look forward to events that are yet to happen but as a photographer you are always looking back at the past.' These are their own domestic loops.

Laura Reeves, The Greenhouse,  2013

Zanne Andrea, He raises his telescope to the stars and delivers himself to the rock, 2013

Anton Goldenstein's Harry & Harlow is a simple yet affecting video work. A toy monkey is in motion on screen. The use of a child's toy provides a reminder of the unstoppable inevitability of growing up.  The relentless mechanical movements of the monkey are beyond the capabilities of its body. It will fall apart and yet continue the gesture. A furless monkey sat astride it is at the same time a younger (looking) and older version of itself. The relentlessness of the video, tending towards aspiration rather than hopeless repetition, encapsulates the character exhibition.

Anton Goldenstein, Harry & Harlow, 2013

Corinna Spencer

Zanne Andrea, Darren Banks, Nicholas Carrick, Rhys Coren, Martyn Cross, Gordon Dalton,  Lloyd Durling, Tracey Eastham, Thomas Goddard, Anton Goldenstein,  S Mark Gubb, Pat Flynn, Neal Jones, Brendan Lancaster, Marion Piper, Yelena Popova, Laura Reeves, Anthony Shapland, Ian Watson. Curated by Mermaid & Monster
19July - 17 August 2013
Like A Monkey With A Miniature Cymbal at Aid & Abet , Cambridge CB1                                                                                                                                           


1 comment:

  1. The show at Aid and Abet is called "Like a Monkey with a Miniature Cymbal", and is a collection of one-trick ponies, sight gags, and punchlines, with the occasional good piece of art. Like most group shows.

    This show offers up a collection of work which reflects the drive for us to carry on living, which in this case is seen as choosing to partake in repetitive obsessive actions. The op-art style paintings of Marion Piper, on display when you first enter the gallery, make good on this promise, with geometric patterns over a layer of painstakingly applied graphite on canvas perhaps coming out of the artists training in carpet design.

    Sadly, this is one of the few jewels of the show. At the other end of the painting spectrum, Neal Jones arrives with his work "Bedsit with Planets", where amateurishly applied oil paint is decorated with lids of paint pots. Perhaps we are to suppose that this is the work of an obsessive painter in his garret, but just as Jones refuses the narrative of learning to paint, the contemporary audience refuses the grand narrative of the artist as visionary - especially when the visions come in the form of household rubbish.

    Perhaps this work would be more effective if it wasn't directly opposite Ian Watson's figurative illustration work. Watson, who shares a name with the cutting edge scifi writer, has printed off two large-scale figures, painstakingly drawn, who dominate the room. It's a shame that the description of the medium is "ink on paper", as if sticking to the idea that a successful rendering can only be made by the artist's hand.

    Meanwhile, Rhys Coren's "Smile" has no problem in being without the hand of the artist. A single word is displayed in a room, accompanied by dance music. It's a funny piece, by which I mean it's good enough to make anybody smile the first time they see it, but where's the depth? What's the narrative beyond "smile"? Is it the same impulse that leads to the anhedonia pointed out by Mark Fisher, or is it a sight-gag that Russ Abbot could borrow for his comeback?

    I don't know, and like most of the work in the show, it's never followed up. The impulse to create, to keep going, is supposed to be enough. We come to the gallery as witnesses for the mindless act, but any audience that seeks out contemporary art is looking to understand themselves and the world they live in - as has always been the case when our species gathers. We are merely monkeys in search of symbols, but very few of them are on display in Cambridge.