Wednesday, 14 November 2012

REED AND RADER @ 18 HEWITT STREET

'When you enter the space you will smile. When you leave the space you will love dinosaurs.'
-Reed and Rader

Super-charming duo Reed and Rader this week came over to London for the first time to stage an exhibition at trendy Prote.in HQ 18 Hewett StreetThe New York duo famed for their bright, glitchy GIFs refashioned  the East London location as a prehistoric party house, staging large-scale projections and sound and video works in a space populated on- and off-screen by…dinosaurs. Around their prehistoric/futuristic GIFs, they lined the white gallery walls with paper cut-out grass and tropical plants, and imported over from New York a massive paper dinosaur friend.
 The opening night was a dino-extravaganza with videogame-graphics, dancing and dining on the digital artists’ favourite food – pizza – served up wood-fired style from bespoke street food company Bosco and Bee. 



Reed and Rader’s work is undeniably, unapologetically fun. They push the GIF, perhaps the first real art form of the internet, to its faux-futuristic limits, creating dynamic and deadpan imagery that never takes itself too seriously. Inherent in their work is a bittersweet nostalgia for the simple pleasures of the early internet age – the happy-go-lucky Moldy Peaches era when Pok√©mon cards and Gameboys, pizza, kitties and cartoons were king.

And yet, beyond their spacey amusements-arcade of imagery there is the potential for more serious discussions about the ways in which new technologies are to direct the future of art and art-making. Just as the prehistoric, the nostalgic and the futuristic are jumbled in this new exhibition, so are the categories of fashion, advertising, technology and art, converging to form a new breed of post-Pop art. Reed and Rader don’t only question the boundaries of ‘high’ and ‘low’ art but disregard them all together - with the irresistible audacity of teenagers. 

Cretaceous Returns is only on for a week: catch the duo and their dinosaurs before they party on back over the Atlantic. Their show at 18 Hewitt Street runs from 8th – 20th November.


(adapted from an article for The Cultural Expose)

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When I spoke to Matthew Rader about what I was writing, I discovered that he hadn't actually heard of the Moldy Peaches (?!) The photographer at the preview apparently caught me harping on about them to him. 







Monday, 12 November 2012

STIFTER'S DINGE - HEINER GOEBBELS @ AMBIKA P3

An astoundingly original sound-installation-sculpture-performance from German contemporary composer Heiner Goebbels. Powered on some level by idol organisation ArtAngel. Runs until 18th November. 


If ever there was an organisation that had its proverbial finger firmly on the pulse of cutting edge contemporary art forms, it is commissioning body Artangel. This month, the team that brought us Roger Hiorns’ sparkling azure ex-council flat grotto and Rachel Whiteread’s full-size casting of her own House have orchestrated the delivery of another extraordinary project to the heart of subterranean London: Heiner Goebbels’ Stifter’s Dinge.
Having travelled across the world, this remarkable ‘performative installation’ returns to its original home at Ambika P3, Marylebone Road. The massive monolithic interior of the former concrete testing facility has once again been transformed to become Goebbels’ cavernous laboratory of sound and light.Stifter’s Dinge defies definition: it is at once a theatrical performance, a visual spectacle, a musical sculpture – and yet it is none of these things exclusively.
A towering structure blinking with LEDs supports five pianos which appear to play themselves, singing out short melodies which combine and blend with the clanking and clunking of other components in the installation. Bodies of water bubble and ripple with the reverberations of sound; a thin mist hovers across the scene. Lights flash and dance across the space, casting abstract patterns on vast gauze screens that lower themselves from the ceiling at various intervals. Phantom-like voices hauntingly play out over projected images of idealised landscape paintings. At times meditative, at times unsettling, the experience is totally mesmerizing.
The title of the work translates as ‘Stifter’s Things’, after nineteenth-century writer Adalbert Stifter who was (in)famous for his fastidious, vividly detailed descriptions of nature: part of his attempt to close the gap between the ambiguity of language and the reality of experience. Goebbels uses similar tactics of immersion in his ‘no-man show’. The contemporary composer created this piece for instruments, not their players; and as the only human presence in the room, the audience is made to focus on the objects themselves which appear to perform autonomously.
This is a project to experience, not one to read about. Stifter was right – sometimes language just doesn’t have the capacity to adequately describe nature (or a multi-faceted, sensory-immersive installation). Artangel never fail to deliver the cutting-edge of cool – the newest addition to their list of weird and wonderful projects is no exception and should not be missed.
(Written for The Cultural Expose)






Thursday, 1 November 2012

ART OF CHANGE: NEW DIRECTIONS FROM CHINA @ HAYWARD GALLERY


Crouch to enter a small arched opening to find a small Chinese woman wandering as if lost around a small space inside. She sings short, breathy notes into the semi-darkness. She comes up close, and after folding and unfolding several dog-eared slips of paper, whispers, as if confidentially: ‘I read---the Happy Prince---did you read this story? ---I draw lot of --- inspiration from---.’

Climb out of this otherworldly space to find a small girl in slippers and striped pyjamas waiting for you, staring straight ahead. She follows you for a short time: just a few feet behind, never looking directly at you but horribly present. At one point she drifts away but you don’t notice where she goes.

A live statue frozen in mid-fall, blinking passively upwards; silkworms that hiss and chatter through headphones that hang from the ceiling like maggots from a tree; a golden tower of human fat; a piece of meat on a pedestal, slowly oozing two pools of grey-blue blood.

If these sound like the surreal components of a bad dream, that is what it was like. In reality, it was the Hayward Gallery’s Art of Change, an exhibition showcasing of the work of nine contemporary Chinese artists dealing with the idea of change: the unstable, the impermanent and the volatile.

I could have written a soul-searching post about the visual links to established Western artists (Orozco, Hesse, Bourgeois, Long) and what this meant (problematic Eurocentric art history in general or only naturally situating the works within my own mental archive).  But before this critical dissection, first and foremost this show is at once human and touching and wholly unsettling. Don’t eat lunch beforehand, especially if you are going to make a trip to see the silkworms. 

Art of Change: New Directions from China, Hayward Gallery, runs until 9th December.

Yingmei Duan, 2012


 Xu Zhen, In Just a Blink of an Eye, 2005

Yingmei Duan, [note from] Happy Yingmei, 2011/2012