250 Words or Less

Short and sweet art reviews and opinions

David Lynch’s swan song for industry

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David Lynch – The Factory Photographs

Above: Untitled (Berlin, 1999). Silver Gelatine print 11” x 14”

Photographers’ Gallery
16 - 18 Ramillies St 
London W1F 7LW

Thankfully I managed to catch the last day of David Lynch’s exhibition, entitled The Factory Photographs, at the Photographers’ Gallery.

This exhibition of 156 black and white images is too vast to concentrate on just one – it is a series, and should be considered in its entirety.  Shot with a nod to cinematic mies-en-scène, the New Objectivity movement, and the Becher’s typologies, we see abstracts of the crumbling cathedrals of Twentieth Century industrialisation.  Taken across a twenty-year period from 1980 – 2000 in the United States, UK and Eastern Europe, I see the images depicting the beginning-of-the-end of the two binaries of Twentieth Century socio-economic philosophy: Communism and Industrial Capitalism.

The factory acts as a signifier of the successes and failures of both modes.  As Communism declined during the 80s, as did collective State run industry.  In the US, the decline of the automotive vehicle industry beginning in the late 90s renders these signifiers of capitalism obsolete deserts of industry.

Grainy, high in contrast, with an emphasis on texture, we see disused three-phase power junction boxes with varicose veins of cables snaking out.  Decommissioned furnaces are silent black holes.  Graphic window frames, with backlit broken panes of glass are being covered by weeds reclaiming light from the factory’s interior.  Steel girders arc like a rib cage, contrasted against an overcast sky.

The exhibition is accompanied by a sound installation of rumbling, clanging noises.  As with Lynch’s films, the holistic visual and sonic experience is designed to create a hyper-reality.

(250 words)

Momentum - United Visual Artists

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Installation view of Momentum – United Visual Artists

Barbican Curve gallery
Silk Street
London 
EC2Y 8DS

Continues ‘til June 1st

United Visual Artists have produced the site specific Momentum, in response to the sweeping architecture of the Curve gallery at the Barbican Centre.  This installation with a nod to Foucault’s Pendulum in Paris’ Pantheon consists of twelve pendulums spread evenly along the ninety-metre expanse of the Curve.  Each pendulum is a meticulously designed and constructed apparatus of light and sound, tuned to the space to resonate both with the structure and with the participating viewer.

Yet, it is an ominous almost sinister experience walking into a darkened passage of swinging lights, beaming outwards like UFOs, or straight down like interrogative spotlights.  Like all good pendulums, they oscillate individually, finding a moment where they are in harmony with each other creating patterns of light upon the walls or floors of the gallery.  Similarly, the sonic element of the installation is either intermittent percussive sounds, or a gradually intensifying ringing as if a hundred hands were playing a thousand wineglasses. 

For me, it is how I image the inside of Orwell’s Ministry of Love to be.  Heightened by the Barbican’s Brutalist architecture, you enter a place of extreme sensory deprivation and hypnotic lighting; an experience that is simultaneously terrifying and calming.  It is as if the space was constructed for the indoctrination of its participants.  It was for me, a quiet cacophony that compelled me to sit on the ground with my back against the wall observing as the odd beam of light picked the others out in the darkness.

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Boomoon - perfect marriage of method to subject.

image Untitled #8790, 2007. C-Type Print, 120 x 180 cm

Flowers
21 Cork Street
London W1S 3LZ

26 February – 5 April 2014

It would be lazy to Orientalise South Korean artist Boomoon’s landscapes.  They do have certain qualities that invite a western viewer to do so: the atmospheric perspective; an inability to clearly read the images from left to right; the subject matter of snow blanketed mountain peaks, and crashing waves.  There is a lyrical and fundamental relationship with the sublime aspects of nature – an aesthetic ‘otherness’ that is not born from a Eurocentric artistic tradition.

However, what I drew from Boomoon’s work was as innate understanding of the materiality of his medium, executed through a perfection of technique and production.  This effectively positions the viewer in such away that it is impossible to be anything other than astounded and overwhelmed.

The four photographs of glaciers in the ‘Northscape’ series – and additionally the complimentary series of the sky as pure gradient ‘Up in the clouds’ – are an example of this attention to technique and production.  Saturated in brilliant cyan and cobalt blues, you can feel the glacier’s sub-zero temperature.  Their swirling crystalline form fills the whole frame, making it difficult to differentiate if they are a wave in motion or glaciers.  This ambiguity is only made possible through the pin sharp focus of the photographs, which are shot with such a shallow depth of field that every element of the surface is in focus.  To compliment the subject matter, the photographs are printed on cool toned C-Type metallic based paper, making the glaciers shimmer and glow from within.

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The Lenticular - naff trick of the advertising world is injected into the language of photography.

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Above: Jeff Robb - Unnatural Causes 2.  Lenticular photograph

On my wanders through the London Art Fair earlier this year, I couldn’t help but notice there was quite the craze for lenticular photography- a kitsch relic of point of sale advertisements, 80s film posters, and cheap children’s toys (remember Pogs?).  So much so, Damien Hirst had a lenticular photographic version of his shark in a vat (The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living - Paul Stolper Gallery). 

For those who aren’t aware of what a lenticular is - though you’ve probably seen one at your local fish and chip shop - it is a form of 3D printing where a minimum of two images are interwoven, and overlaid with a regularly ridged plastic screen to either give the effect of animation or depth.  Almost like a physical forerunner of the GIF.

There are several artists who employ this technique to varying degrees of success, however I think it was most effectively used by Jeff Robb in his work Unnatural Causes 2 (represented by Mauger Modern Art stand G4).  In this work, the lenticular adds both movement and depth, as we are presented with a black and white photograph of naked women contained within hexagons and contorted into an uncomfortable position within the geometry of the space - reminiscent of a beehive.  The unnaturalness of this human apery is given a certain patina by the use of the lenticular, recalling a science fiction based dystopia.

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Sophie Bueno-Boutellier - Sing only a song that you can hear

Nonsense on my right, nonsense on my left, there is no justice, 2014
Wool tapestry, 180 x 250 cm

The Approach, London

1st Floor
47 Approach Road
E2 9LY

27th February – 6th April 2014

The performative aspect of Beuno-Boutellier’s practice is evident through all the works on exhibition at The Approach gallery; paintings that are worked on the floor, off-cuts of rough canvas and plastic that through inter-play of the two materials form the basis of large tapestries.  The work is considered, subtle, balanced and silent; beautifully orchestrated experiments in time and space.

Initially I found the work too silent, too subtle – I appreciate the grand, the bombastic and the sublime.  However, on reflection I understood that there is a tension that lies in this work tracking the movements of the body in space and its intervention upon the mediums of Beuno-Boutellier’s practice: the practical aesthetics of considered and quiet beauty.

What I found most interesting about this work was the translation of the artifacts of her practice into the large-scale tapestries. The multi-faceted, almost onion-skin like distillation from one media to another; the interplay with her body and within themselves, which was then photographed and closely cropped, translated into digital imagery, and condensed again to form the basis of the tapestry works. 

Tapestry weaving is performative in itself: loud, grand, and physical.  However, here we are presented with muted tones of beige, brown and white.  This, almost contradictory exploration of technique and image, and its relation to performance and the body, furthered to serve the flattening and flux of media at each stage of the process: from object to digital image, to cropped pixilation woven back into the physical world.

(247 words)