When I walked into the immense white space of the South London Gallery, performance artist Marie Cool was sitting quietly at a table, pushing four white A4 sheets of paper together with such concentration, I thought the sheets would scatter to the floor, broken as concentration often is when pressed too far or held a little too long. This, I learned, was a work called Untitled (2006), and the papers never fell, even as the tension between them sent them up towards the ceiling.
Untitled 2006-2009 is a great show. The works of Marie Cool and Fabio Balducci function as both sculptures and performance pieces, paying homage to simple materials whose uses are defined by their creation in industrial factories. The performances, rigid and scheduled, are not far from that of an assembly-line worker, and it is this repetitive ideology that shapes their actions. Cool’s movements are slow and precise, devotional and Minimalist, emphasizing the fragility of the objects. Visitors can move in and about the gallery, passing between works as the artist moves in clockwise sequences. The sculptures, when not in use, sit on tables and the floor, or hang from the ceiling, waiting for the artist to return to them.
Cool performs every hour the gallery is open, whether or not there are visitors in the exhibition. The physical absence of her working counterpart—Fabio Balducci—is palpable, but the tension of the artists’ choreography successfully fills the space. Cool never breaks concentration or recognizes the comings and goings of the gallery—the loud click of high heels on the polished floor, or the heavy rustling of viewers as they move through the exhibition—breathing and talking, leafing through their own paper exhibition catalogues. In Marie Cool’s world, it is silent, and she has a job to do.
-- Ashley Vaughan
Images courtesy of the artists and Serge Le Borgne Gallery, Paris
Images from Top to Bottom; ( Marie Cool/ Fabio Balducci, Untitled 2008; Marie Cool/ Fabio Balducci Untitled 2007)