Thursday, February 28, 2008

Broadwick Street

Little Green Street

text from The Camden New Journal

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

London Stone (27 Feb 2008)

Friday, February 22, 2008

Smoke and Mirrors

An artist takes a narrative and often turns the verbal or written material and reinterprets the information into a visual, object based material or intervention. The dangers of these methods are that without the back story an artists work can seem unreadable, the gap between the story and the art work that inhabits the space can be vast. This is exactly the problem when viewing Hague Yang’s latest installation at the Cubitt gallery, Yang has created an installation inspired by the murder of German Green party founder and activist Petra Kelly, without the knowledge of details of Kelly’s death we can only guess at the tortuous and twisted concepts that created the design of Yang’s installation and we are left with many unanswered questions. This in fact echoes those questions left behind or unanswered in the investigations behind Petra Kelly’s murder, we ask ourselves whether this seems to be the artists intention. In the ensuing dialogue between viewer and artwork we question our abilities to decipher the signals and visual messages being laid out before us, perhaps Yang has skilfully reinterpreted those unanswered questions of the investigation into the sculptural forms we see before us now.
Mirrors reflect piercing and changing intensity of light beams obscured by a construction of many venetian blinds that mask the gently blowing fans of scent machines, we pace around the installation looking for clues as to what is hidden, by which and for what reason. Yang’s installation plays with familiar materials and objects and engages many senses but seems at the same time distant and abstract. It is a ghostly environment ready to reveal its secrets only to shroud them in obscurity once more, we search for the clues and wait for the story to unfold only to step once again into the obscured.

Seemingly somewhere between the public and private life of Petra Kelly is the truth behind her death and similarly somewhere between the story of Petra Kelly and Haegue Yang’s installation that has been inspired by Kelly’s life and death is a well conceived and executed art work. It remains a clever but frustrating series of smoke and mirrors.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Hearts of Ice

The sound fills the semi darkness of the room, a scratching, dripping, skewed soundtrack of nature, the sound of the life or perhaps death of a vast global force. At the icy feet of a glacier a human is insignificant, a small dirty speck on a huge, clean, powerful force. The sights and sounds of Katie Paterson’s three films in the new space of the Room gallery fill the semi-darkness of the gallery, a blue’ish light emanates from the screen, the strange soundscape alters from the natural to unnatural and back again in fractions of seconds. Glacier’s have shaped our world and left us with an inheritance in the contours and shapes of the geography of the world we inhabit, they have forced their way across the landscape, scouring, grating and polishing the surface of the planet creating the lands we now know. From three Icelandic glaciers, Langjökull, Snaefellsjökull and Solheimajökull Paterson has collected the glacial meltwater and the sounds of their immediate environment, the melting dripping sounds of their existence. We now recognise that this is potentially the last age of our current glaciers, human activity is pushing many of these powerful forces of nature to the end, as the world heats these solid but slowly changing landscapes of ice are finally exhausting their powers. Paterson’s recordings of the three glaciers have been pressed as LP records, moulds have been created from these and then cast in the refrozen meltwater, the sights and sounds of the playing of these ice records are filmed and replayed on the screens within the gallery. The power of the glacier is evident when viewed close at hand, to venture onto its surfaces is to engage in a subtle dance with danger, its colours are some of the most beautiful and astounding the natural world can offer and its dangers extreme, a sublime balance of beauty and danger. The sounds of the three records move between the natural and unnatural, the sounds of water dripping and the slow stretch and contraction of the ice and then the scratch and slip of the abrasive cast ice of the record and the slowly melting grooves. During springtime the immediate danger of the glacier is multiplied, ice bridges become unstable and crevasses wait to swallow the unsuspecting, unfortunate or inexperienced travelling across its face, however on a global scale the actions of humans are changing the life of the glaciers, we have embarked on a battle with a natural force of the earth and as we jeopardise its existence the natural response of the glacier to our actions also jeopardises humans both individually and collectively. Paterson’s three films combine to create a beautiful and poignant artwork, it documents her journey, the landscape and the amazing character of these icy bodies and also poetically documents a potentially dying force of nature whose state we are causing to alter and whose demise will alter our own lives.