Thursday, August 16, 2007

On the Roll of a Dice...

Made the journey to Camberwell on Saturday. I rarely go any distance without a worldly-wise escort or the privacy of a fast black and typically although I made a map complete with elaborate pictures (think Narnia or Middle Earth:- 'There be Dragons!') I left it at home. Fell out of a bus at Camblewick Green or somewhere and luckily had stored the gallery's number as a fail safe and they directed me to the show. I was there to see 'Flock' at GX Gallery, actually the launch show for their new initiative Deviate Projects. I was there specifically to see Karen D'amico's involvement.

Karen's work is concerned with origination, identity and place, and uses mapping, text, photographs and index-systems, re-ordered and re-presented in enlightening context enabling us to consider our place in the world.

Karen main piece in the show is 'Luck of the Draw', an installation two years in the making comprising a heavily subverted poker table, with chips piled high and playing cards strewn over the green baize as though a bunch of cads had just left mid-game. Two steps nearer and you realise that instead of queens and clubs the playing cards are faced with excerpts of maps and cities, and the chips are marked WEALTH LITERACY EQUALITY HEALTH. That the map facings are from atlases of differing styles only highlights the micro-world effect. The piece reminds the viewer that the world is a landscape of bad-luck, and just in case we harboured further doubts as to the fragility of life the UN Human Development Index, a ranking of livability, is pinned up on the opposite wall.

I also enjoyed Clare Blundell-Jones' utterly desolate 'Tumbleweed at British Service Stations' series. Empty photographs of drab services taken in the early morning sunlight, with their strange mini-malls and petrol-station forecourts. They all have pillows of tumbleweed floating in the foreground of these nowhere places that you only experience on the way somewhere else, and only because you have to. Some have a few human beings sneaking in the frame, but I preferred the completely empty ones. They are not depressing at all, actually quite uplifting as they look as though they were photographed at about 6am on a Summer morning. They have the day ahead to look forward to. 'Birch' and 'Cairn-Lodge' were my favourites. There's also 'Newport Pagnell'. I thought at first it was a shame that they were hidden away downstairs in a small ante-chamber (the gallery basement is marvellously labyrinth) then realised that the small long chamber suited the quietness of the work. You can only fit one person at a time in there. There is also a film piece, with the artist chasing tumbleweed around early-morning London with one of those wind tubes that you clear leaves with accompanied by a twanging guitar soundtrack. I don't wish to unlock the seriousness of the piece, but it looked as thought it was great fun to make. If that was me I'd have stayed out all night, got completely trousered, and got Gerald to film me chasing foliage round a deserted London as the sun rose. What a joyful way to greet the day. Probably quite funny too... in fact I'm certain I caught a few near-giggles in that film, and why not. Why shouldn't the art process tickle one!?!

The other artists who grabbed me (not literally) were Helene Kazan who was showing a group of framed architectural drawings of built-up crowded views bisected by arcs and projected parts like a Wyndham Lewis drawing (very BLAST! manifesto), and also Angela Smith's beautiful painting of a child.

Needless to say I'll be at Deviate's next one; in the interim all escorted offers to places off the beaten track cheerfully accepted!

Flock is on until the end of August.