Friday, 30 March 2007

When informed that Sam Taylor-Wood was among a number of artists exhibiting at the STUK Arts Centre, in the ‘wife-beater’ Stella Artois producing catholic university town of Leuven, Belgium, I was pleasantly surprised and relieved to be able to experience one of our reputable and home-grown female artists on continental shores, in combination with of course, a significant sampling of the world finest beers.

Completely retarded by language (and nursing a severe hangover), my initial frustrations were emphasised with a somewhat lack of ‘English’ text material that supported the exhibition and I was then acutely aware of relying on the audible interpretation of my Flemish radical feminist ‘teacher’ girlfriend who demonstrably had no hesitation in taking advantage of this situation, translating to me her own transgressive subtexts and visual reading.

As I began to adopt my own queer interpretation, it appears that even the painted red line along the floor (used as a guide) now became ‘gay’ pink, as it pathed its way through the corridors of this ex-University Chemistry block, taking me from one absence to another, reflecting back my own lack of supporting texts, Anglophone literary comfort zone or indeed, the misunderstandings of the written word. From the self-reflecting television screens, documentation of a child’s ‘mirror phase’, a solitary flapping curtain that reveals and conceals, miniature reconstructions of empty places in empty places, light to dark, empty yet promising spaces and corridors; the curatorial concept of presence and absence, the visible and invisible, focuses on a number of international artists working within these same specific fields of tension. The exhibition and its space invite one to come and see, yet it allows a sense of emptiness to prevail. Mostly representing new media artists using video, audio and even an interactive virtual reality space, there was something far more primitive in the exhibitions constructions, making us climb through obscure, dingy and almost empty portakbins, tip-toeing awkwardly through darkness and by restricting our senses, emphasising the uneasiness of eerie silences.

Whilst an overall powerful and emotive exhibition, Sam Taylor Woods headlining film contribution representing some of her older works Prelude in Air, Ascension and Strings (which generally consists of, quote “her ability to get vulnerable men doing silly things”) was, as always, of a cinematic and visually dramatic qualitative level yet relatively minimal in comparison to the overall submission by the other sixteen artists. Occupying the largest space and drawing in a crowd, maybe my dampened experience of this Taylor Wood’s ‘revered’ work a second time round on foreign lands reveal the English desire and sensibility for the exotic and the unknown or maybe indeed, all I needed was an English version of the exhibition guide.

Monday, 26 March 2007

Untitled #6

Carl von Weiler (x3 or more), 1998, hanging upside down like a bat in a low dark space. Whilst we can merely observe the image of an installation piece, we sense that this duplication of a haunting and repressive space, mediated by television and again in the gallery space itself, amounts to further curatorial layers whilst we observe it through the density of a computer screen. Tell me, is he really upside down?