Are you the public?
Then come in
and see our things.
According to the Cambridge dictionary a ‘collection of things shown publicly’ constitutes an exhibition. What you see here is just that, but then again, it’s not. Or, it might be, depending on how long you hang around.
A review by Susan Francis
CAS associate artists have been present at WSA for five weeks. In that time they have proliferated a diffractive process, a process of thought, interaction, word and material. A collective and creative dissent. Bucking the curatorial trend, they have slipped through the hands of the establishment to create an offering which is anything but stable.
On and offline these artists have opened up their practice to dialogue. Dialogue with each other, with history, with material, with context. The ‘things’ they have created have changed, morphed, and distilled. As they entered the gallery for the final 3 weeks the work grew but so did the dissent – gently and surreptitiously. Each day the ‘things’ have been rearranged creating new pathways, new conversations and agitations – it has not been easy.
Particular themes have risen to the surface, the unsettling fragmentation of imagery, seen in Julia Keenan’s disembodied objects. Cut free from their moorings in some dystopian boudoir, silver shoes and giant hairpieces a float on white walls where they surely shouldn’t be remind us of a fragmented sense of self we all now seem to share.
In dystopian sympathy, Susan Merrick floats through some budget re-enactment of an Ophelian dream world, sailing around the WSA rotunda, offering a clothes swap to those daring enough to take someone else’s identity.
Wherever we look echoes and conversations around identity, body and gender refuse to be submerged. They surface in Sharon Harvey’s glorious ‘lilo’ coloured paintings, in giant scale referencing a growing body, incongruous with todays obsession with less is more.
And as James Aldridge attempts to categorise, document and contain safely in files, the findings of his watery discoveries, so his definitions dissolve in his hands into more fluid conversations again of identity, of gender and self.
Karen Wood, James ‘walking partner’ through which these works have emerged, favours a simpler form of categorisation, as she translates her urban street findings into a distinctly more ‘clipped’ language of coloured tape, which yet persists in dissenting against the safety of the vertical.
In a far corner, David Dixon creates a holding pen for interaction, where snippets of conversation and movement are tracked, subsumed, coded, converted and offered back in a kaleidoscope of colour and pattern, making the most of the smallest of our interventions.
Kimvi also speaks of place and the leaving of place as she recreates a giant version of the boats she made as a child, referencing a Vietnamese heritage of movement and belonging, ready to set sail and move around the gallery, hoping to find moorings in a less than hostile space.
Water too is the catalyst for Laurence Rushby’s bodily explorations in cyanotype, again working on a gargantuan scale; diving into the process, body, water and sunlight combining to make marks with the sort of abandon which would be frowned upon by more conservative lovers of the craft.
Place and the displacement of place also surface in Andy Jones work with maps. Maps burnt, maps dismembered, maps reformed and altered, maps which no longer function to tie us down to borders, to memories and stable places we once knew.
And so these are the threads of conversation in flux. Nothing you see here is stable, nothing is whole, all is fragmented, all is moving, flowing, shifting, afloat. Surface tension abounds. What you are experiencing is the moment of our ‘things’. You, the public,which constitute this collection as an exhibition. Come tomorrow, it will have changed, come on a week later, it will be gone.
Ecotone: Defined by Astrida Neimanis (Hydrofeminism…, 2012) as a site of tension between two ecosystems, which also becomes home to new forms of life.