SE8 Gallery presents ‘Or an Island or a Boat’, a solo exhibition of the Croatian artist Tina Gverović.
Her works examine the relationships of unstable, transient subjects and the real and fictional topographies they traverse and inhabit; staged here, the exhibition functions as a memory theatre in which the artifacts perform in the context of the gallery, snagging our own recollection of past encounters. Paintings and drawings, depicting partial figures at work and rest, are displayed on structures in new constellations. These supports introduce a classic, serial methodology of display, but also act as spatial divisions, rehearsing Gverović’s concern with territorial boundaries.
Despite the intentional formality of the arrangement, there is no division between object and support structure; every part of the exhibition – a painting, a frame, a beam, a sheet of plywood, a video-image, has a material presence and a sculptural form that melds deliberate action, process and display. Ambient sound, mediated through spoken voice recordings, rolls words around the air, adding yet another layer, an accretion to the space.
The title references an ambivalence between a nautical craft and a place; one refers to transience and placelessness, the other to stability and permanence. Perhaps the metaphor can be extended to the gallery, to be understood as a ship, an ark that contains a collection of things to be saved from the flood, which has run aground on some hard, distant spit of land.
Tina Gverović (1975 Zagreb) works and lives in the UK. Current exhibitions and projects include ‘Travelling South’ at Baltic Art Centre, Visby, Sweden, and ‘Invisible Building’ at the Busan Biennale, South Korea.
The exhibition is accompanied by a 7″vinyl with a new sound recording by the artist. Also forming part of the show are two live events with collaborators Vlatka Horvat on Saturday the 11th of May and Margareta Kern on Saturday the 18th of May, times to be confirmed.
During the course of a closing reception (7-9pm) for David Price’ exhibition Into the Field the writer Koen Sels will read from his recent work, translated from the Dutch for the occasion.
Colour is one of the essential tools to describe something that is not at hand, an instrument much used by novelists and travel writers to make the reader live the immediacy of an experience. Tim Braden uses colour to refine or redefine the things he depicts: faces, landscapes, toys, signs, animals. His taxonomy appears excessively broad, as if he were interested in everything, in the manner of a scrapbook. On the surface, Braden’s work then seems oblivious, anachronistic almost; its images of faraway exotic places remind us of other times, rendering the present virtually superfluous. His sculptures and models reprise the objects of childhood. He points to an interest in things that are unremarkable and can easily be overlooked and remain untouched in a digital world; in Braden’s work, the toy -like a memento from a distant trip- is the embodiment of fiction, a trigger for another state of being.
Martin Westwood’s installations, sculptures and collages refer to the stratified world of commerce and its mass produced objects. He selects images of people at work engaged in mundane activities, taken from corporate brochures, which are appropriated and repositioned through the use of mechanised processes. By foregrounding corporate iconography, Westwood examines the codified absurdity of the workplace with its well-rehearsed and repetitive actions and exchanges: emptied public gestures that filter through to the private world of the individual, tainting and marring every intimacy. Westwood’s depiction scenes from the work place always suggest something repressed which remains hidden, where a hand shake ceases to be a gesture of friendly greeting, becoming a hollow form of systematic communication.
The sculptures of Tatiana Echeverri Fernandez address and update key aspects of assemblage, after Installation art. Made of found materials and cast-offs from consumer culture, her works act as props to forge relationships with the audience, and with the space of the gallery. However, though removed from their original settings and shorn of their use functions, these props retain a certain mournful echo of their past. Indeed, old commodities reveal their architecture too readily without offering up the implacable and impenetrable surface quality of its current counterparts thus attaining a form of allegorical value.
The cabinets employed here by the artists serve to underline the nature of display through scale and substitution. The formal properties of a glass vitrine are suggestive of containment, and thus, separation or fetishisation, the result of the museum’s systemic activity. Fragments of what is ‘out there’, in the world are brought in for scrutiny and display, protected by the glass screen of a vitrine; hence, it serves to draw our attention to, not what it contains, but all that it does not. It is the cabinet’s inability to contain that ensures continuing interest, acting like a box in the world theatre by promoting the idea of (a space of) art, but in a condensed form. Where the cabinet of curiosity became a window onto an exotic realm, the ‘White Cube’ shut it again, insisting on the exclusion of all but art from its ethereal body. In the Contemporary, this space is once more opened up to the world, yet it is one rendered in miniature, located in the head of the artist, an essentially private and reticent place.
The sculptures and installations of Daniel Silver, heads and bodies made from an array of different materials, and placed on often elaborate supports in the shape of plinths, chairs and tables share an unassuming appearance; they seem, at first, rudimentary, as if out of focus, shorn of distinctive features; however, this lack of distinguishable detail does not render them alike. This absence of detail is, in fact, not a lack, resulting in inertia, but a productive motivation on the subject’s part; in this way, it compels the viewer to question and engage. What we are led to distinguish, are the marks and shadowlines left on the heads by the sculptor who adds, and, oftentimes, subtracts material in search for a form; these shadows provide testimony of the sculptor’s presence and touch in the process of accretion and deletion.
The attention to surface in Silver’s work is redolent of key early Modernist sculptures by Medardo Rosso, Amedeo Modigliani and Contantin Brancusi, as indicated by the manner in which they address the relationship between their torsos and heads and the support surface.
Andrea Büttner’s choice of material and medium references utopian Modernist strategies and outmoded artisanal methods of production.
Her woodcuts, glasspainting, and screenprinting would appear to be rooted in craft traditions, rather than within contemporary visual art. That is, if we accept that the Contemporary has a specific aesthetic, then these media may be excluded from the discourse. Yet it is precisely their marginal status that draws the artist to them.
The appropriation of the gallery space provides a recurring theme in the artist’s work. She paints the walls of the space brown as far up as she can reach before engaging in the display of other works. Her cabinets stand in for the idea of the gallery and are painted in garish colours applied with a seemingly unsteady hand; the invocation of amateurism seeks to recuperate an authenticity seemingly lost in the Contemporary.
Hosking does not appear to travel in order to communicate: instead, he journeys and makes art, to get away, and, at times, to quite literally disappear.
It might appear as if the artist’s work was solely invoking Romanticism and harking back to another time and place, though this would be an incomplete, and ultimately superficial reading. Instead, his problematizing of both subject matter and process functions perhaps as a way of staving off oblivion, to recall in order to endure today. His projects, often taking place in remote and inhospitable locations, foreground observation, stillness and toil. For this exhibition, the artist waited in a hide for nights on end, in order to capture footage of an elusive owl. The films are then projected into the cabinets, which are lined in black velvet, a material that heightens the chiaroscuro of the nocturnal footage.