Thursday, September 24, 2009

Life in Progress

It is a site of contradictions, dereliction and construction, pathways and obstructions, despair and hope. Amongst the reconstructed detritus of Paul Carter’s installation “Hotel” at Matts Gallery one feels unease but also strangely connected to the impromptu structures and elements that make up the re-imagined interior architecture of the gallery. In the corner of the gallery sits a disused lift with the cables cut and the door partially open, Carter’s recognisable large sofas and chairs have been made from discarded and reconstructed frames and placed around the edges of the gallery space. In the central space a labyrinth of wooden boxes, blocks and batons are screwed and nailed together to demarcate small rooms, alcoves and pathways. The light of bulbs hanging at irregular intervals from the ceiling cast shadows around the space from panels of wood used to create the walls. Glass panels, some intact others cracked in places allow the lights glow to illuminate some areas and others to glare and momentarily obstruct your sight. Within some of these constructions are small alcoves, tiny boxes and shelves. Wedged behind glass panels we can see small insignificant collections of objects, dust, dirt, wood shavings and other detritus.
It is some time before the realisation that this constructed interior is in no way connected to the existing interior of the gallery, one assumes that some columns and walls must have been present prior to Carter’s period in residency in which the installation has been assembled, however this is a completely false assumption. All the sculptural elements of the installation were transported to the gallery space and assembled from the collection of reclaimed materials that Carter uses in his studio and hybridised from previous works stored around his workspace. This is a shanty town construction in the gallery space and unlike the elevated trinkets of much contemporary art Carter’s works are assembled and constructed from the lowest, most overlooked materials into something more powerful and engaging. Amongst the protruding nails, the smell of rotting masonry, dust, dirt and splinters of wood is an honesty. An honesty of materials, honesty of construction and honesty where Carter as an artist shows us traces in these reclaimed materials of histories seeping out, traces of human activity, of life with all its contradictions, that these materials have absorbed.

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