I Will Eat This Sleepy Town is a perfect title for Marcin Dudek and Ben Washington’s exhibition where both artists display works, which have been outputted and reinterpreted from either a site located historical framework such as 1970’s Katowice Poland for Dudek or from contemporary structures and pairings found in everyday life for Washington. Together they present and investigation into interpretation and perception not only located within how artists perceive and attempt to redisplay events/objects but how the viewers digest this reinterpretation.
I think it is terribly difficult to translate and relay historical events in visual fine art. Artists run the risk in being confronted with the question: why is this significant outside of this time period and what is the point in bringing this event/time in a wider viewing sphere? One would argue because it is history and this work becomes another person’s point of view of this situation. Another would counter with, at which point does a historical site located reference not apply to certain viewing contexts? Dudek does these queries justice by creating an experience for viewers to be enveloped by and thus experience his translation of historical reference. His packaging tape installation of a cave, fitted with “real” cave sounds also allows viewers to subtly digest the 1970’s mining Poland through a book of collaged imagery, video clips of mine lighting, and jovial cinematic soundtrack. At the end of the installation a video of a giant industrial architectural structure left silent by all human presence gives way to thoughts of an abandoned industry and the rapid decline of economy.
Washington’s installations also play with translations but of the everyday with twists that challenge viewers to look twice. An example of this is his work consisting of a large light-box that gives form and presence to a lit up photograph but not to the actual structure that is holding it suspended within the space. Though some of his parings are somewhat obvious such as a light-bulb standing in for the sun, the same pairing is used again in an aesthetically challenging way. The light-bulb again stands in for the sun but uses it’s own cord to support a miniature of a mountain range while lighting a similar architectural feature that mimics the mountain silhouette. These are the simple observations that make perfect aesthetic sense.
-- David Yu
Images courtesy the artists and The Warterside Project. Marcin Dudek, Kopalnia, adhesive tape, celophane, video projections, Kopalnia (Mine Project), 2010; Ben Washington - I Will Eat This Sleepy Town.jpg Massive Fat Removal, 2010, Shock and Apathy, 2010