A performance by Ruth Proctor will take place at 7.30 pm, during the opening 18 April.
…we are participants in complex choreographies (histories, politics) where the most measurable properties and forces of the material world produce, fold into, collide with and emerge from our laws, languages and loves… (Jay Tan)
Reach Out and Touch Me brings together works by Helen Cammock, Ruth Proctor and Jay Tan that through performance, photography and sculpture point to the artist as interlocutor within these ‘complex choreographies’. An engagement with the object produces sites that reassemble and reposition meaning as our understanding shifts within the construction of social frameworks.
Helen Cammock’s photographic series titled Legacy from 2008 consists of medium format photographs and texts. Selected objects have been shot in a blacked out studio environment. The objects represented include a pencil, a jar of condoms, a necklace and a tube of tanning cream, that stripped of their frame of reference move into the visual language of advertising or anthropological arte-fact. The accompanying titles, laid within the frame, relate the object to a historical and geographical context as signs within colonial and post-colonial structures, reflecting on the role of language in the continual building and renewal of power relations. Cammock’s use of the aesthetics of display suggests a reading of these objects as cultural remnants that speak of an archived past that is still present.
Ruth Proctor’s slide show Super Ruda shows a performance she made in Cali, Colombia in 2010. Proctor turned a street vendor’s parasol – visible everywhere in the city - into a wearable cape. To embed herself and the performance into the city, Proctor produced, through a local mechanical press, posters that read ‘For Luck and Protection’ putting them up on fly posting sites used by Cali businesses. The parasol is appropriated as a cultural emblem and given agency to acknowledge the position of Proctor as an outsider. The object as cultural agent serves to heighten her visibility as she wanders the streets, expressing her un-belonging through performance, donning a wig and her persona ‘Super Ruda’.
For Jay Tan the mound - sometimes a skirt or headdress, case or skin - replaces the figure or a body. Tan is interested in the hand and the mouth as the edge of the personal, and a bridge to the relational. Slots are made into mounds; shelves are inserted or reach out. The shelf can be seen to symbolize the ways in which bodies can meet or expose themselves to each other. They are practical open structures, where objects are displayed, and often shown off. The Retired Engineer, 2013, consists partly of a mound made out of Chinese newspaper cuttings. This sculpture has many attributes such as: A magnet tray, a tie, buckets, telescopic magnet pen, gravel, fired and unfired ceramics and a low temperature Stirling engine – that together articulate this imagined figure’s function and beauty, roughness and lyricism. In Anna Karenina: Problems Always Come From the Outside, 2013 the mound has become a column. She is more upright and poised than the engineer, we can’t look up her skirt, but the triangular shape of tartan revealed by a more baroque piece of fabric, leads the eye and we can see that a lamp lights up an interior space.
Reach Out and Touch Me will be the last exhibition at the current gallery space before reopening in Clerkenwell later in the year. This exhibition takes place in the spirit of the gallery’s beginnings that focused on showing young artists.