Continuing with the theme of fictional realism in the everyday, Nouvelles Vagues & Other Hunting Stories presents the work of three artists: French video artist and filmmaker Simon Dronet, London-based installation artist Dexter Dymoke and pluri-disciplinary Estonian Marko Mäetamm—here showing works on paper and video. Taking the ideas explored in French New Wave cinema as a starting point, the artists examine the absurdity and frustrations of everyday life and contemporary culture, treating the subject matter with sardonic humour and an ironic eye.
Referencing the directors of the New Wave era most directly, Nouvelle Vague is a short film which parodies the narrative voice—a technique popularized by Jean-Luc Godard — paradoxically creating its own iconoclasm. Here, the voice of the director is edited over images of inanimate objects – a plastic bottle, a spade stuck in the sand, a dead crab – so that it appears their movements are direct responses to the instructions we hear. The result is a series of hilarious vignettes, which unpick our environment; picturesque seaside scenes are repeatedly interrupted by debris and discarded items, and yet they become somehow sympathetic as they undergo their anthropomorphism. Dronet’s second video, 1+1=3, is another send-up of the Nouvelle Vague auteur, this time turning its attention to the blurred lines between fictional narratives and documentary. Using its form to reflect meaning, the film, while playing with the documentary-style of the New Wave, speaks an artist’s project to “reconstituer des nouvelles identités”, making masks that paste together the faces of different figures from celebrity culture, politics, and media stories—Villepin and Sarkozy, Paris Hilton and Ben Affleck, and a couple killed in a motorcycle accident.
Where Dronet plays more upon the filmmaking techniques of the New Wave, Marko Mäetamm’s works here are imbued with the atmosphere of distaste for contemporary societal values and traditions. Mäetamm’s series of watercolour and pen drawings on paper, 30 Stories, are black comedies, vitriolic snippets that lash out against domestic life. Moments of intense everyday frustration are depicted, captioned with the sardonic dialogues, jarring, obscene, expressing the dark inner desires of their characters; a naked wife asks her husband “do you think I’m sexy”—“Do you think you’re sexy?” “Hmmm I guess so…” “I guess not… a regular sex life is good for a man’s prostate, that’s why I do it.” Familial clichés are attacked down one by one by Mäetamm’s cynical hand and his characters throw off their obligations.
Dexter Dymoke’s installations, impulsive interventions, are perhaps the most innovative and certainly the most abstract interpretation of the theme. Manipulating familiar materials and objects — doors, chairs, breeze blocks — his works at first appear to sit strangely in the space, but each contains its own narrative, more complex and visceral, and less accessible to the viewer, that his fellow exhibitors'.
This is a small show, but packs a curatorial punch, with endless amounts of interest to be found in the way the artists have interpreted different techniques and ideas outlined by the New Wave and have created their own microcosms through this interpretation, retelling modern life, “masters of the fictionalization of the everyday”.
-- Charlotte Jansen
All images courtesy Nettie Horn Gallery
Images: Simon Dronet, 1+1=3, 2007, 3:24min; Dexter Dymoke, Witness , 2007, wood, metal, cloth, 244 x 102 x 26 cm.