Screenadelica 2011 was an exhibition of gig posters, held in an empty building on Slater Street that used to house the International//Art Organisation Gallery. Most of the posters were on sale, and you could select a design and have a t-shirt screen-printed for you at the event. There were some bands, and a bar. I think the more I think about my practise, the more I realise that this is the kind of event I want to be involved with, more than I want to make work that is viewed as "fine art." The line between a graphic product and a fine art object has never really existed to me, and I think the images on display at Screenadelica were every bit as worthy and compelling to me as anything else. Hopefully it'll be a taste of the kind of experience I'll have when I start graphics/illustration in September. I'd definitely seek this kind of outlet for my work more readily than I'd use a white gallery wall again.
Wednesday, 11 May 2011
I really enjoyed this exhibition, Dormitorium by the Quay Brothers, in the Victoria Gallery. It functioned as a good introduction to their work, which I thought was halfway between David Lynch and Tim Burton. They capture a sense of the cartoonish and morbid that I often try to achieve with my drawings, although obviously their vision is much more fully-formed and accomplished. The space was very darkly lit and quiet, and all the cabinets were their own self-contained little universe or vignette. It was a real testament to artworks potential to transport, inspire and move us through a commodity of means.
"Relationships," held in the Liverpool Academy of Arts, was the largest of the student shows arranged as part of the Practise and Publication module. I liked many of the works on show a great deal, and I felt a lot of it was very poignant and worthy. I did however think that the space itself felt sort of characterless, and few of the works engaged strongly with the idea that their artwork was being produced for a specific display space. This is something I feel guilty of with how I chose to display my own artwork, too, however, so I have no real right to criticise.
The works produced for the second show of that evening, "Introspective at the LSU," felt more successful, with a slightly stronger sense of identity and shared ethos. All the works in the small, office rooms, felt really accomplished and were, at times, very captivating. Rachel's films combined to menacing effect, Tasha's installation was otherwordly and ominous, and Louise's room was a really artfully combined and poignant arrangement of objects, tones and moods. These works probably went the furthest in overcoming the flat, empty atmosphere of the Student's Union.
I think maybe some other works weren't serviced the best by being displayed in the SU. Freya's work is something I rate and always enjoy seeing, but I thought the lighting and atmosphere of the room it was displayed in was just too flat and sparse to do it justice. It's one of my favourite works produced by my peers, but I'd be dishonest if I said I could totally overlook its display environment in appreciating it. I had similar feelings about many of the more wall-based works, but I'm aware that the logistics of displaying in an SU must have been quite hard to deal with. None of the work was inherently flawed, in fact I thought it was all really good, it's just that the space still felt officey. I had to deal with similar annoyances displaying in the Corke gallery.
One thing that I felt all the works benefited greatly from was the friendly, fun atmosphere of the show. It was easygoing and casual in the same sense that "Mementos" was, and it's something that not all of the exhibitions I've been to this year have shared. It goes a long way to making an experience memorable, and I think during the course of "Introspective," the LSU definitely housed a lot of worthy and enjoyable opportunities for memorable experiences.
After Mementos, Matt had his projector and speaker set-up left in our house for a period of time. We decided to watch Daft Punk's Electroma on the big screen, with a totemic arrangement of candles on the floor underneath for effect. It was a throwaway idea, but it actually came to change how I viewed the film really significantly. They gave the film a sense of time, place and tangibility that became really integral to my enjoyment of it. The film has no dialogue, and the largeness of image teamed with the candles made it profoundly visual and moving. Artworks exist outside the self, but our experiences of them ultimately always boil down to context and our specific state of being as we view them. Watching Electroma really crystallised the importance of these aspects of creative practise to me.
Roots opening, overall, went well and as planned. Getting the work arranged in the space was a relatively easy, pain-free experience, as I had a really good time working with the other three students exhibiting. I think their work was of a high standard, and I was proud to exhibit with them. They all did their work justice, and we put on, what I'm told, was quite a slick show.
In retrospect though, I'm not convinced I felt totally proud of what I produced for the Corke gallery. The 15 framed works I had worked well as a unit, but I thought they felt unnatural and out of place on the stark, white Corke gallery walls. I was assured by Nic Corke that the display wall would be painted and the pictures straightened, so when I arrived on the opening night to find that there were still pencil marks on the walls and all the pictures were at angles, I felt quite let down. Nic, in fairness though, wouldn't have done this due to neglect or dishonesty - he showed a real enthusiasm and interest in working with us, and I liked working with him. The fact that my pictures jarred in the space, I think, had more to do with my expectations of them, and was an issue to do with own artistic discretion. The lighting and atmosphere was something that I should have made it my business to think about before I put the works in there, and I think I was complacent in thinking that they would work in that context.
My envelope wall was popular but I felt I copped out by taking money from people for them. Charging £2 seemed nominal in the abstract, but when it came time to actually take the money I just felt a real sense of guilt. Seeing the money pile up in a jar just seemed obscene to me, and if I had to change one thing about the show, I'd have made the envelopes free from the start. One feedback that I've got from people is that they've pinned their envelopes up on pinboards or on fridges, and I like that idea a lot more than I like the idea of having had my works on some walls for a period of time.
I think I learnt a lot about my real value as an art practitioner through Roots. I don't disbelieve in the concept of a white gallery wall, but I do think that my work demands a context beyond that to really be at its best. Putting my work on the walls felt a bit like a perfunctory, shallow decision, and if I'm honest, I didn't put a great deal of thought into how it would all look in situ. If I was to display again in the future, I'd think more laterally in how to best put across a sense of myself in how I present paintings and drawings to an audience or viewer.
Mementos was an exhibition by Pip Dye and Matt Weir held in 10 Edge Lane, in my house. Mementos has probably been my favourite of the student-led exhibitions this year. The works, that both address a sense of nostalgia and memory, felt appropriate in the dilapidated, high-ceilinged, sparse spaces. Pip and Matt were forced into using the house because their arrangement with Casa de Brujas fell through, although I think Pip's work especially felt much more natural and believable in a home setting. Matt's films were accomplished and immersive, and I think the sit-down viewing format worked in their favour. There was an easy-going atmosphere to the event that was unlike any other exhibition, as we were all amongst friends, at home, and drinking. The bonfire was a particularly appropriate touch - they evoke a certain kind of warm reminiscence that, I thought, was a really astute addition to the evening. One to remember.