Friday, 14 January 2011

The Days of Darkrooms and Reel-to-Reel: ANALOG

The era of darkrooms and reel-to-reel recording studios is the subject of ANALOG, an exhibition at Riflemaker, 11th January - 5th March.

Left to right: Karlheinz Stockhausen in the studio; advert for Garrard record playing equipment; Richard Nicholson, Roy Bass darkroom, 2006; Richard Nicholson, Gordon Bishop Associates, 2006
The exhibition includes photographs of London darkrooms by Richard Nicholson. When Nicholson started his project in 2006 there were 214 professional darkrooms operating in London; by 2010 there were only 5. In an article in The Guardian, Nicholson describes his approach:
In keeping with the spirit of the place, I photographed it in the dark. I used a tripod, switched off the lights, opened the shutter for 60 seconds, and moved around the room with a flashgun, firing it lots of times. It's a technique that lets me bathe a scene in light. Normally, darkrooms are gloomy places.
Richard Nicholson, Roy Snell's Darkroom, 2006
The world of analogue sound recording will be represented in an installation by Kitty, Daisy and Lewis (a three-piece band influenced by R&B, swing, jump blues, country and Western, blues, Hawaiian and rock 'n' roll) who will perform at Riflemaker during the course of the exhibition as well as recording visitors.

The exhibition will also feature work by Clare Mitten (BA Fine Art Painting, University of Gloucestershire, 1998-2001): her cardboard sculptures 're-analogue' objects such as mobile 'phones and laptops.

Clare Mitten, Aztec_Topal (Red), 2010
In contrast to all the above 'analoguery', there will also be an installation by Ziegelbaum + Coelho which is described as follows: An ambitious, pulsating LED installation completes itself only when touched by the visitor, each movement modifying and transforming the work itself.
The gun-testing vault at Riflemaker will house 220 luminescent pixel-tiles. Visitors to the gallery will be able to change the colours of the tiles, create a rhythmic pulse and re-arrange the overall form of the square, magnetic blocks.

Read the exhibition catalogue on-line and review by Sean O'Hagan.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Exhibition Roundup - January 2011

An occasional, and highly selective, pick of current and forthcoming exhibitions.

In his wonderfully titled biography of Joe Orton, Prick Up Your Ears, John Lahr records the doomed playwright’s excursion into ‘literary vandalism’: in the early 1960s Orton and his partner (and murderer) Kenneth Halliwell would steal books from Islington Public Library, modify the covers and illustrations, add blurbs, and smuggle them back onto the library shelves: In a critical study of the poet, a pot-bellied old man tattooed from head to toe and clothed only in a skimpy swim-suit stood stiffly beside the name ‘John Betjeman’ (above). The first volume of Emlyn Williams’ collected plays had a curious repertoire of ‘Knickers Must Fall’, ‘Up the Front’, ‘Up the Back’… ‘He Was Born Grey’…’Fucked by Monty’… In Alec Clunes’ biography his face was replaced by a skull with a hole in the cranium (above). (Lahr, John (1980) Prick Up Your Ears: The Biography of Joe Orton, Harmondsworth: Penguin, p94)

An exhibition of Orton and Halliwell’s doctored book covers together with an installation by Adam Gilliam is at Ancient & Modern from 13th January until 16th February. (See Joe Orton Online for more examples of Orton and Halliwell’s book covers.)

Cindy Sherman, Untitled, 2010
New work by Cindy Sherman will be at Spruth Magers from 12th January until 19th February. The gallery describes the work as follows: For this series Sherman has assembled a cast of uniquely individual characters on large photographic murals, marking a departure within Cindy Sherman’s artistic practice from the format of the framed photograph… The various personas animating this new body of work were created as shrines to nondescript, eccentric characters who might also be seen to denote sentries, guarding the entrance to some fabled land, casting ambiguous and disconcerting glances at the viewer. (Read more.)
Read an interview with the artist: Cindy Sherman: Me, Myself and I, by Simon Hattenstone.

Gabriel Orozco, Black Kites, 1997
Gabriel Orozco opens at Tate Modern on 19th January and runs until 25th April. Orozco’s most well known works demonstrate his playful and conceptual approach as well as the diversity of his practice: La DS (1993) is a Citroen DS which was sliced into 3, lengthwise, the central section removed and the remaining 2 parts joined together; Yielding Stone (1992) is a ball of plasticine which was rolled through city streets collecting debris and impressions; Black Kites (1997) is a human skull onto which Orozco has painstakingly drawn a pencilled grid; Breath on Piano (1993) is a photograph of a mist of breath on a polished surface. Read an interview with Orozco in Bomb Magazine; Adrian Searle’s review of Orozco’s 2004 Serpentine show, Peter Schjeldahl’s review of the MoMA showing which preceded the Tate show.

Gilbert & George, Embankment, 2009
White Cube’s Mason’s Yard gallery will show new work by Gilbert and George, 14th January – 19th February: Urethra Postcard Pictures; so called, according to the gallery blurb, because, These new pieces are united, compositionally, by their elements comprising "an angulated version of the sign of urethra". This shape - a continuous rectangle of cards, with a single card in its central space - mimics the sexual symbol used by the one time theosophist C. W. Leadbetter (1853 - 1934) to accompany his signature, and as such proposes that this group of new art works is infused with a still confrontational libertarianism. (In case you were wondering.)

Charlotte Moorman performs Nam June Paik’s Concerto for TV Cello and Videotapes, 1971
Tate Liverpool is showing the first major UK retrospective of Nam June Paik the pioneering video and multi-media artist. Read reviews by Laura Cumming and Adrian Searle.

At The New Art Gallery, Walsall, Bob and Roberta Smith has [sic] curated a show titled The Life of the Mind: Love, Sorrow and Obsession showing from 21st January – 20th March 2011. According to the gallery website, this has been inspired by Sir Jacob Epstein's sculpture of his then 15 year old daughter Esther in which she seems to be resisting the artist's gaze, The Life of the Mind seeks to expose the myth of the great male artist who has special insight into the minds of his more frail female subjects. The exhibition will feature a key number of powerful female artists who give form to the interior world. Each artist resists easy interpretation and in Bob's word, "sticks a sharp pair of scissors into the soft underbelly of male hegemony". The exhibition will include work by, amongst others, Louise Bourgeois, Helen Chadwick, Tracey Emin, Sir Jacob Epstein, Sarah Lucas, Annette Messager, Chris Ofili, Bob and Roberta Smith, Emma Talbot.

Finally, the major show of the new year is likely to be Modern British Sculpture at the Royal Academy, 22nd January – 7th April . It is claimed that the exhibition will take a 'fresh approach' to the story of British sculpture in the 20th century, replacing the traditional survey with a provocative set of juxtapositions that will challenge the viewer to make new connections and break the mould of old conceptions.
Read feature by James Hall, review by Adrian Searle, and see slide show of exhibits.

Barbara Hepworth, Pelagos, 1946
Many of the exhibitions listed in the December Roundup will run through January - see below, for details.