Wednesday, 27 February 2013

'Arrow to the Heart' - Corinna Spencer & Andrea Hannon


Love, friendship and collaboration are all like improvisation in that it’s about saying yes. In improvisational comedy, the one rule is that what one person suggests needs to be agreed with and built upon by the other person. The alternative is that it never goes anywhere. As Andrea Hannon’s short story says ‘In the hands of a horrible assignment we are neither of us happy’.

From Corinna Spencer’s description of the collaborative process as ‘a real joy’ to the seemingly endless dialogue emitting back and forth between the words and images in the work it is clear that the rule of ‘yes’ has been adhered to in this case. Even the small scale of the work, compared to the three other collaborations in Co-Respondent, seems to suggest an intimacy, something held close to the heart. Spencer chose to paint her lead character from the back view. Symbolism-wise this could mean so many things, the idea of leaving springs to mind immediately. On the other hand, turning one’s back implies complete trust, and given the open nature of the work, this seems a more fitting interpretation

In creating her work from existing books, Andrea Hannon works with what is already there. Spencer does the same by painting from contemporary culture. It’s something that (dare I say it) seems to have something to do with womanhood. Carving out what is theirs in what they find around them. The end result undoubtedly belongs to the artists, the final words of the story are ‘He has simply disappeared’.

In describing the beginnings of the project, Spencer explained, ‘we talked about what we thought the text was about, what as individuals we could draw from it and where our feelings about the piece intersected’. 

That word intersected describes the sense of connection that is present in the work. Parade’s End was Spencer’s current obsession before beginning the project. It seems perfect that  Hannon’s short story was so well suited to Spencer’s preoccupation, and indeed it is perfect. It’s a comforting thought that a personal obsession is not a lonely thing at all, just an individual’s fragment of the collective consciousness.

That idea of intersection comes into play in the story of Parade’s End itself. An unhappily married man with Edwardian values and an idealistic suffragette meet accidentally, and of course, against all odds, it turns out that they love each other, better than that they are good for each other. A fitting story for a piece of art that depends on bringing the best out of one another.

Sarah Cleaver

16 February - 3 March 2013
Unit 25a Regent Studios
8 Andrews Road
London E8 4QN

This is the fourth of four texts about Co-Respondent, a show about collaboration which foreshadows the upcoming issue of Garageland 15: Collaboration which will be launched on 19 April 2013. 

Saturday, 23 February 2013

'19 Days' - Sarah Cleaver & Paul Kindersley

Co-Respondent at Transition Gallery - Part 3

Sarah Cleaver’s essay, which forms part of her collaboration with Paul Kindersley, starts off by talking about Jung’s use of word association with his patients, and about a sense of collaboration that can be built up between analyst and analysand. She uses the word ‘lulled’, and one can imagine, in looking at their work, how pleasurable this sense of being lulled into collaboration, can be.

The work, titled 19 Days came from an email correspondence between Kindersley and Cleaver, an exchange of images, short notes, poems and videos, in a chain of associations, one leading to the next, back and forth, over the chosen specified time. In setting up the rules of their project, they were inspired by the work of Sophie Calle, thinking in particular about her work with the writer Paul Auster.

19 Days takes the form of a pin board of images and short texts selectively edited from their exchange, plus the essay by Cleaver made in response to this, and additionally a QR code. This code can be scanned by a smartphone loaded with appropriate app, and leads to the 80s electronic disco song Cherchez Pas by Madleen Kane; adding another pleasure with which to delight the viewer’s senses. One can feel the seemingly limitlessness resource of online information we have at our fingertips, but also get a sense of the swapping of cultural nuggets between friends with some shared sensibilities, and the final piece is carefully honed and edited.

Cleaver’s essay mentions television police using the pin board format to organize maps and photographs of leads and evidence. This reference is there in the pin board in 19 Days but with its matt black fabric surface and the saturated colour of some of the images, what also comes to mind is a display of jewelry. There is a seduction also, of course, in the images themselves – of sexy bodies, touch, revealing, concealing, textures, surfaces, display, performance.

One cannot but help wanting to start ones own string of connections from the rich leads of this work – and what better place than with the first image of this exchange – an image of a girl on a beach, taken from the 1976 Catherine Breillat film A Real Young Girl. Co-incidentally (or perhaps not), before seeing the work, I had also just watched this film, which was recommended to me by Urara Tsuchiya (my own collaborator in Co-Respondent). She saw it recently with Paul Kindersley, after YouTube fortuitously flagged it up for them, in relation to another film they had just seen. And so the chain of associations goes on.

Mimei Thompson

16 February - 3 March 2013
Unit 25a Regent Studios
8 Andrews Road
London E8 4QN

This is the third of four texts about Co-Respondent, a show about collaboration which foreshadows the upcoming issue of Garageland 15: Collaboration which will be launched on 19 April 2013. 

Friday, 22 February 2013

'A Sonnet Made Real' - Travis Riley & Sarah Bernhardt

Co-Respondent at Transition Gallery - Part 2

Travis Riley and Sarah Bernhardt’s collaboration invites the viewer to employ all of his/her senses to take part. From the smell of the bee pollen so carefully applied to the top of a plinth to a soft-spoken Sonnet made tactile and shiny on its copper printing plates.

Riley says of the sonnet that It’s always lacked a physical manifestation that would allow it to exist anywhere other than on a page’. There is a sense of liberation about the work somehow. The pollen feels as if it could lift off of the wooden plinth and swirl upward together with the plain pigment yellow of its counterpart plinth. Simultaneously the words escape the page to the copper plate and then onwards in its distribution.

The Sonnet, the starting point for Riley and Bernhardt, describes a relationship of unrequited longing. Under the ever-present gaze of its surroundings it is made whole and reciprocated by the collaboration itself, a process that mirrors the very presentation of a collaborative project.  

Corinna Spencer

16 February - 3 March 2013
Unit 25a Regent Studios
8 Andrews Road
London E8 4QN

This is the second of four texts about Co-Respondent, a show about collaboration which foreshadows the upcoming issue of Garageland 15: Collaboration which will be launched on 19 April 2013. 

'Monkey Information Centre' - Mimei Thompson & Urara Tsuchiya

Co-Respondent at Transition Gallery - Part 1

At the far end of the Transition Gallery space is a set of three shelves. An assortment of objects covers their surfaces. On the top shelf is a modest stack of books, amongst them: The Great Apes, Animal Philosophy, Monkey, and The Woman & the Ape. The shelf below holds little trinket statues and stuffed toys, all monkeys, some Gordons gin, and some Schweppes tonic. The bottom shelf has 3 DVDs and a scattering of what look like M&Ms. On closer inspection, they are meticulously modelled from Plasticine.

The wall behind the shelves is covered in symbols, loose line drawings painted directly onto the white wall in washy colours, like children’s wallpaper. The meaning of the symbols is no secret; a definition is painted below each one in plain English. ‘Yes’ is a capital ‘Y’ painted in lilac. ‘Bite’ is a squiggly violet line, not unlike a row of cartoon teeth. ‘Coffee’ in green, is formed of two concentric circles, intersected by a line, a coffee cup and saucer. ‘Hotdog’ is composed of orangey-brown perpendicular lines, the vertical one hanging down from the other, ending in a hook. It doesn’t in any sense look like a hotdog. The pattern of representation and non-representation continues across the wall. The characters are lexigrams from Yerkish; an artificial language developed for use by non-human primates.

The piece continues on the walls perpendicular to the shelves. Upon each is hung two images, an oil painting on canvas and a white framed photograph. Composed of few brushstrokes, the paintings portray complex images. It is hard to imagine that the paint is dry; their surfaces still seem unstable. Next to them the stark, frozen quality of the photographs is amplified.

The painting on the right hand wall depicts a hulking grey gorilla outlined against a turquoise backdrop. His shoulders extend beyond the edge of the canvas, and he frowns out into the gallery space. Beside him, in the photograph, is a woman wearing a red dress, face metamorphosed by a pale green gorilla mask and framed by a mess of black hair. She seems sullen. The mask reflects the turquoise of the canvas.

The painting on the left wall shows a more coiffured, urbane gorilla on a mauve canvas. His photographic counterpart is a seated lady in a green summer dress. She has a mop of fair hair and a flesh tone monkey mask to mirror the pink canvas. Hands in lap with painted nails, she appears prudent and unperturbed by this strange scene. The paintings are by Mimei Thompson, and the photographs Urara Tsuchiya. I ask Thompson about this particular pairing of monkeys.

[the painted gorilla] is a European linguistic philosopher, fond of black coffee and too many cigarettes. He is a great thinker (or thinks he is, in any case). His companion, in the photo next to him, is very supportive, and dotes on him. Well - that's how I see it.

In its entirety, the work is titled Monkey Information Centre. In the name is the implication of an archive-like selection, but upon seeing the work it becomes clear that it does not resemble a tradition museum. Its material appears unmethodical and notably selective yet with no immediate agenda. The impetus behind the particular assortment of objects and works is not coded like the words on the walls, but more akin to a neighbourhood historical society, a joyous archive of everything that comes through its doors. Many of the knick-knacks have an immediate relation to well-known monkeys from science. Lucy, (1964­1987) a chimpanzee owned by the Institute for Primate Studies in Oklahoma was fond of a gin & tonic, and Kanzi the bonobo is known for learning lexigrams at Georgia State University and enjoys M&Ms.

As well as its textural juxtapositions - the mercurial gorilla paintings play against the static photographs and inexact wall paintings handsomely – the work holds another pleasing disparity; the distinction between informational and curated content, and content that has been created. The culmination of the found factual material, books and DVDs on the shelves, with the interpretive material, representative paintings and performative photographs, is what gives the work its title. It’s hard to imagine now what else a Monkey Information Centre could be.

On the weekend of the 2-3 March, Tsuchiya and Thompson will be hosting a Monkey Weekend. With films, readings, discussions, activities, performance, and a recommended reading list, the event promises to activate the installation, bringing the Monkey Information Centre to life for two days.

Travis Riley

16 February - 3 March 2013
Unit 25a Regent Studios
8 Andrews Road
London E8 4QN

This is the first of four texts about Co-Respondent, a show about collaboration which foreshadows the upcoming issue of Garageland 15: Collaboration which will be launched on 19 April 2013. 

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Kiss Me Deadly At Paradise Row

Kiss Me Deadly is a group show of contemporary neo-noir from Los Angeles curated by Price Latimer Agah and featuring Jeneleen Floyd, Jonah Freeman & Justin Lowe, Francesca Gabbiani, Sayre Gomez, Mark Hagen, Glenn Kaino, Aaron Sandnes, Allison Schulnik, Simmons & Burke, Bobbi Woods and Rosha Yaghmai.

Jonah Freeman & Justin Lowe - Caberat Starlight #3, 2012 custom pigment print
Jeneleen Floyd - LA Nocturne, 2012, video with sound, Aaron SandnesAuto Bandit  (Octave Garnier), 2012

The text that accompanies Kiss Me DeadlyThe Singing and The Gold by Alissa Bennetts, is a short, deceptively simple, screen play; a twisty, turny mystery with seemingly doppelgänger females at its centre. I had a similar feeling of doubles and familiarity walking around the gallery. Faces I felt like I had seen before, scenarios that seemed reminiscent of black and white films or newsreels, things buried in my subconscious somewhere, or perhaps I just wish I had seen them.

Downstairs in the black walled dimness is where the show stashes its gems. Secrets are gouged out of the wall to reveal a monstrous clash over a beautiful woman. There is a sense of the criminal underworld where the shadows cast are full of mystery and near misses while bad men in good suits scan the grubby opulence.

Jeneleen Floyd, Birds, 2012, Cut and pasted paper
Mark Hagen, To Be titled (Subtractive and Additive Sculpture #10), 2012, Rainbow Obsidian, epoxy, anodized aluminium and stainless steel space frame

Corinna Spencer

Kiss Me Deadly
29 Jan - 9 March 2013
Paradise Row
74a Newman Street, London W1