Swarms of Black Flies Make the Roses Purple

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Untitled, 1959 © Courtesy of October Gallery
Swarms of Black Flies Make the Roses Purple
Curated by: Mark Jackson

Unit 2, 210 Cambridge Heath Road
E2 9NQ London
July 20th, 2012 - August 26th, 2012
Opening: July 19th, 2012 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Other (outside main areas)
+44 (0) 20 8980 5475
Thu-Sun 12-6; or by appointment and until 9:00pm on the First Thursday of the month.
mixed-media, installation, video-art, sculpture


Late Opening: Thursday 2nd August until 9pm

Swarms of Black Flies Make the Roses Purple presents instances of collaboration with technologies of production, particularly in terms of how contemporary artists manipulate technologies into an artistic purpose. With precedents provided through the work of William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin, the exhibition presents new works that investigate artistic communion and transmutation.

Included is work by Gysin from the most crucial period of his career. Gysin explored language as a material, creating calligraphic paintings and inventing the cut-up technique from which, via his groundbreaking Poem of Poems, this exhibition gets its name.

Alongside Gysin’s work are new works by Ashton, Baker & Poulson, Plastique Fantastique Hart and Ospina, and previously unseen works by William S. Burroughs.

Integral to work of Plastique Fantatique and Baker & Poulson are premises of collaboration, whether as a group, in the former case, or as a dialogue between two artists in the latter. Baker & Poulson’s collaborations concern the fragility of communication and language, whilst Plastique Fantastique perform ritual and inscriptions as acts of becoming.

Hart uses cameras and video as important presences in artworks themselves, both shooting and viewing becomes an interaction inextricable from the technologies of filming and the context of presentation. Likewise Burroughs viewed a different kind of shooting as a creative act, the holes made by gun targets becoming means to generate new fabricated landscapes and narratives. Ashton makes anthropomorphic performances in costumes that sometimes seem to hamper their own operation. At once melancholic and tender, her videos produce existential narratives of creatures bound by their own given form.

Ospina’s uses the detached virtual tactility of computer image-making software to deal with how people choose to record and represent themselves in the 21st Century. Here, in a major new work, he presents a painting collaboration with a teenage girl from his native Colombia who, until now, has never accessed the Internet. Ospina confronts their shared landscape of their childhood with widely dissimilar experience of the proliferation of image in the digital age.


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