This project began with an invented phrase that caught the ear of the British curator: Kleine fantastische. The coupled words encapsulated a yearning for something brilliant, magical, fleeting perfection, the desire for something to be true – in this case the desperate wish that this phrase meant something succinct and wonderful in the German language, rather than the cumbersome reality of the native English tongue.
The works in this exhibition capture various aspects of this desire to harness or the fantastic. The opening night sees an analogue firework display by Kim Coleman & Susie Green. Their handmade leavers, pulleys and ticker-tape sparks create an explosion, the remains of which will remain on the floor for the duration of the show. Hayley Lock’s adulterated portraits often begin with 17th century paintings as source material. Each character develops its own narrative, as yet untold, through Lock’s layering of sequins, glitter and stickers, parts cut our or obliterated, other enhanced. Their back-stories alluded to in an instant. For this project a child’s portrait captures the beginning of an illustrious life from a parallel world and different era.
Claire Cooper’s cast bronze distressed dolls-house chests are a sketch for a larger project – they hint at an entire landscape. These works, as well as prompting a distopian narrative where liliputians befall an unfortunate entropy, they are the beginning of a potential field of chests creating a new world’s contours. Decay is also present in the macabre slaying scenes in Tessa Farmer’s work. The dioramas made from hair, roots, dead bumblebees, birds and more paint a nightmarish fantasy battle frozen in a moment. Clodagh Emoe’s work, often concerned with romantic notions and epic tales, presents About 100 Experiments, a sound piece akin to Yoga Nidra for guided visualisation – about 100 prompts emanate from a jarring disembodied computerised voice.
Roxy Walsh’s small paintings were made in an intimate gesture for imagined friends. Upon moving to a new, friendless city, Walsh made paintings for the people she hoped might fill her life; their small scale reflecting the quiet hope of a new beginning. Liliana Basarab creates another intimate possibility by offering beauty marks to visitors. Through the adding of a small yet distinct blemish entire new personality may be conjured, or the life of Marilyn Monroe or Cindy Crawford emulated, if just for a moment.
About the curator: Catherine Hemelryk is a British-born curator. She programmes the visual arts at Bury St Edmunds Art Gallery, UK and was a curator at the Contemporary Art Centre (CAC) Vilnius from 2005-2008. She maintains a freelance practice curating, teaching and writing. Recent projects include The Intimate, The Infinite and The Impossible at Magacin, Belgrade, Interplay at Bury St Edmunds Art Gallery and she was selected as an Escalator participant by Arts Council England in 2009.