Ceal Floyer's works are charming. The British artist uses wit and a sweet sensibility to lure viewers towards larger questions about the reception, presentation and purpose of conceptual art. Floyer's appropriations and mixed media installations (using stationary paper, rubber bands, puzzles, a receipt for only all-white foods and lights) offer the pleasures of a good puzzle. Connecting the bits of information that she provides and teasing out her meaning is a rewarding intellectual exercise that highlights the gallery's potential as philosophical safe space.
"Picture Puzzle" (2006), the first work at the entrance of Floyer's "show," consists of an eye-level shelf with two identical books - each with a sticker stating that they were bought on a 2-for-1 sale. The books are cheap puzzles which provide two apparently twin pictures but with slight deviations. The game is to uncover the differences. In Floyer's installation, the two pieces are the same. What ever nicks or slight dissimilarities exist are accidental and insignificant. However, the act of carefully considering these objects prepares viewers for the thinking they'll need further along in the exhibition.
In KW's main space, Floyer arranged 50 plinths which arbitrarily emanate the word "thing," extracted from various pop songs. There are no "things" present in the piece, but an awareness of possibility fills the room. The potential for objects makes the otherwise empty installation into a rewarding reminder that art is essentially a fantasy and its value is capricious.
"Double Act" (2006) highlights the illusory nature of art and its myriad meanings with one simple, yet effective, optical illusion. The piece is simply a theatre spotlight projecting a circular image of a red curtain against a white wall. The sight of the curtain creates an aura of expectation and the thrill of an upcoming event. But the work provides no resolution. Instead, the curtain peaks our curiosity but represents only the expectations placed on contemporary art to function as entertainment, drama and possible disclosure. In Floyer's hands, anticipation and presentation trump any possible outcome.
--Ana Finel Honigman
(Images: Top image-announcement; Ceal Floyer, Picture Puzzle, 2009, Zeitschriften / Magazines, 17,7 x 22,7 x 0,7 cm, Foto / Photo: Uwe Walter. Courtesy Esther Schipper, Berlin. Ceal Floyer, Things, 2009, Audio-CDs, CD-Spieler, Lautsprecher, Kabel, Holz / CDs, CD-player, speakers, cables, wood; Maße variabel / Dimensions variable; Foto / Photo: Uwe Walter. Courtesy Esther Schipper, Berlin. Ceal Floyer, Double Act, 2006, Fotografisches Gobo, Theaterlampe / Photographic gobo, theatre lamp Maße variabel / Dimensions variable; Installation view Swiss Institute, New York, 2006, Foto / Photo: Uwe Walter. Courtesy Esther Schipper, Berlin)