John Divola, Cyprien Gaillard, Beatrice Gibson, Michail Pirgelis, Daniel Turner
29 Apr 2016 – 05 Jun 2016
Under a falling sky brings together five artists whose work evidences the space between reality and fictive states and the subjective distortions of the authentic in archaeology, folklore and storytelling.
This exhibition takes as its starting point the shifting perspectives of labour and industry, technology and nature and the fragments of varying potential outcomes, violent and destructive, utopian and otherwise, in the transformation of something new into something other.
John Divola’s photographic Diptych series produced during the early 1980s juxtapose two antithetical images, harmonised with the use of colour saturation gels. With this act, the immediate foreground of the image is coloured with an unnatural hue, yet the background retains its natural ambiance, creating a sense of psychedelic photographic illusion. Here, Untitled (83DPT21), 1983 a close up of a dolphin is tinted magenta and shown alongside a series of variously coloured formal squares in the process of flipping, or as a cube deconstructing. Two of the shapes are similarly tinted providing an aesthetic alliance, and an allusion to the dolphin jumping and diving as the squares rise and collapse.
Also presented is Untitled (83DPT6) which sees the sawdust and tree branch interior of some unseen caged animal’s habitat, viewed from outside and saturated in blue, show alongside bi-fold square cards with their mirrored centre removed, coloured blue and red. The use of colour and the diptych format allows the works to hover between two forms of representation, the symbolic and the indexical.
Divola speaks of this series; I was interested in the relationship between the abstract and the specific. If you paint a goat, it is an emblem of “goatness”, but if you photograph a goat it is a specific goat. What interested me about photographs was their inertia in terms of being drawn into the realm of the symbolic; there is always some kind of tug back to specificity. If you take a coloured gel and you project it onto the goat, then it pushes it a little more towards the symbolic. The thing I like about diptychs is that they herald a kind of cognitive address, “Why are those two pictures together?” But if you have two incongruous images that have a common colour, it again tugs against the initial analytic impulse.
Beatrice Gibson’s 2012 film Agatha is a psychosexual sci-fi about a planet without speech. Presented here in an exhibition almost entirely devoid of the human figure, its narrator, ambiguous in gender and function, weaves us slowly through a mental and physical landscape, observing and chronicling a space beyond words. Based on a dream had by the radical British composer Cornelius Cardew. Without language to describe it, the space itself is unavoidably altered, and the film invites an appraisal of the relationship between word and land; between the physical and conceptual, the signified and signifier: once it is named, it is.
Curator Amy Budd speaks of Gibson’s practice; …her films are composite works, collaging together sound, literature and multiple authors to explore the slippery operations of language and difficulties in representation. Born out of interests in improvisation and collective production, Gibson’s films blend social modes of working with a diverse range of references, from the experimental music of Cornelius Cardew to the musicality of speech found in the operas of Robert Ashley and writings of Gertrude Stein, and typographical experiments of BS Johnson. As a result, her wholly collaborative films function as elegiac exquisite corpses, their socially engaged foundations challenging conventional notions of authorship and filmmaking.
In the exploration of the altered readymade, Cyprien Gaillard navigates and examines perceived benign objects through an anthropological lens. Gaillard’s Untitled (Tooth) 2015 series presents us with fragments of industrial construction equipment, reappropriated from their original use and function and presented in specially fabricated vitrines, generally used in the preservation and display of museum antiquities. Gaillard here acts as explorer and archaeologist, these ‘teeth’, taken from the bucket of excavation machinery, bear the brunt of the digging process, becoming blunt from use, they’re discarded and replaced. In this series, Gaillard reflects upon meanings and memories of monuments and landscapes that have been erased and replaced by the effects of time and social and cultural transformation. Investigating time and historical remembrance as demonstrated in forgotten monuments, wrecked ruins, and artefacts. Presented here in a line-up of three, the works correlate with the building and regeneration happening outside of the gallery windows.
Curator Ali Subtonic speaks of the series; Gaillard has been visiting demolition sites and looking at bulldozers and other heavy equipment over the past decade, wanting to get a closer look at the machines responsible for clearing rubble and erasing history. He zeroed in on the excavator attachments—yellow cast-iron tools that bear a striking resemblance to pre-Columbian artefacts. Gaillard refers to them as “teeth.” They are fragments of the larger excavator machines, resembling pre-historic artefacts.
Cyprien Gaillard’s practice lays between the intersection of history and nature, and humankind’s relationship to both. He confronts the many contradictions of the built environment, his works deal with the cyclical nature of time and he is particularly attracted to dereliction: I’m interested in things failing, in the beauty of failure, and the fall in general.
Working with a similarly archaeological motivation, Michail Pirgelis works with a limited set of materials in the production of his sculptures, that of discarded fuselage and interiors from aeronautical bodies, sought primarily from California and Arizona’s aircraft ‘bone-yards’. Pirgelis preferring to source from the US as Europe’s aeronautical authority has stricter rules for the dismantlement of decommissioned aircraft, making it difficult to obtain specific original parts. Additionally, the intense environment and weather conditions of the desert exposes his materials to the elements which results in a specific surface patina. Each component from overhead lockers, seat belts, machinery and even an aircraft’s economical kitchen, as in Kapsel 2, 2012 presented here, which floats almost imperceptibly above the gallery floor, has been mined, dismantled and used as the source for sculpture from these defunct machines. Each dislocated fragment revealing the internal intricacy of their construction. Pirgelis minimally and subtly intervenes with his source materials surface, cutting a cross-section from an entire fuselage, presenting a simple panel cut out untreated, sometimes coloured, as a disrupted monochrome, door and window sections have been mirror polished, as in Pre, 2016.
Variously installed directly onto or leaning against the gallery walls, these objects are inverted, reflecting their surrounding interiors and becoming an existential void into the unknown, a portal to another world. Specific to these materials is countless man-hours of mechanical, technical and design innovation in adherence to commercial travel guidelines, yet in their abandonment as historic, past-use relics, Pirgelis appropriates and re-narrates these aircraft materials. Exploring the contradictions and ambiguities of contemporary air travel, both the physical reality and the psychological, our innate desire to fly and fear of air travel – their symbolic weightlessness and eventual succumb to the force of gravity is key to his work. Man’s dream of flying has always implied the desire to overcome human capabilities and limitations; as a result, these fragmented objects are imbued with a sense of failed hope.
Material transformation is of key importance in the practice of Daniel Turner, and the steps he takes to effect his alchemy are deliberately crude. Previously he has poured iodine into commercial sinks isolated out of presupposed context as sculpture and on floors, leant against pristine white walls the resulting marks left by his body imprint creating stains, each evidencing his interest in the rituals of work. This deconstructing of materials crosses over into his sculptural practice, where there is an inventive and physical use of industrial materials – from kerosene, charcoal, soot and rust; the raw products of burning, oxidisation and corrosion. Often exploiting the potential for an unnerving, or disquieting that lies beneath an object’s purely formal qualities, his work employs a fixed set of parameters culled from recognisable external routines and sources.
Presented here is Untitled, 2015 two industrial brass rods which the artist has customised with a Nickel plating and whose surface has been subject to a heat bearing cutting process revealing the gilded brass interior. Evocative of metal scaffolding rods that surround and penetrate building facades in urban cities, the violent act of cutting into the material is decidedly physical, yet carries the incidental elegance of an oil spill or rust-formation. Turner works in calculated gestures and an economy of mean that disrupts the standardised multiple and serial manufacturing process of the Nickel plated rods, taking them from purposeful building material to passive object. Turner displaces his work through an objects isolation, imposing a perceptual encounter through his objects severance from any sense of its original utility.
In utilising products or byproducts of industrial manufacture; materials which are produced and integral, yet rarely seen, in their revealing Turner emphasises their uncanny, something which is at once familiar yet unknown, this bears an anxiety, his works are both at once alluring and repellent.
John Divola (Born 1949, Los Angeles), lives and works in Los Angeles
John Divola’s work has been featured in more than seventy solo exhibitions in the United States, Japan, Europe, Mexico, and Australia. The retrospective “John Divola: As Far As I Could Get” was held concurrently at Santa Barbara Museum of Art, the Pomona College Museum of Art and Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 2013. Since 1975, John Divola has been a professor of photography and art at numerous institutions including California Institute of the Arts (1978-1988), and since 1988 at the University of California, Riverside.
Divola’s work is currently included in the group show “Ordinary Pictures” at Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, and has most recently been included in the group show “Still life with Fish: Photography from the Collection” at Hammer Museum, California and in “Images Moving onto Space” at Tate, St. Ives, Cornwall.
Cyprien Gaillard (b. 1980, Paris) lives and works in Berlin and New York.
Gaillard has had solo exhibitions at a number of major institutions, including Hammer Projects: Cyprien Gaillard’, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; ‘The Crystal World’, Moma PS1, New York (both 2013); ‘What It Does To Your City’, Schinkel Pavillon, Berlin (2012); ‘Rubble and Revelation‘, Fondazione Nicola Trussardi, Milan; ‘The Withworth Park Obelisk’, Withworth Art Gallery, Manchester (both 2011); 2011 ‘The Recovery of the Discovery’, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin; Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main (both 2010); ‘Obstacles to Renewal’, Kunsthalle Basel, Basel; ‘Glasgow 2014’, The Hayward Gallery Project Space, London (both 2008).
Gaillard was awarded with The A.T. Kearney Young Artist Award in 2012, National Gallery Prize for Young Art in 2011, Marcel Duchamp Prize in 2010, and Prix Academie Les David in 2008, amongst others.
Recent solo presentations include Kunstsammlung Nordrhein Westfalen K20, Düsseldorf and Julia Stoschek, Düsseldorf (both 2016) and the inclusion in La Vie Moderne, 13th Biennale de Lyon (2015).
Beatrice Gibson (b.1978, U.K) lives and works in London.
Recent solo exhibitions include Collective Gallery Edinburgh (2015); F for Fibonnacci, Laura Bartlett Gallery, London (2014); A Tale of Two Cities, The Highline, New York, (2014); Beatrice Gibson, Wilfried Lenz, (2014); CAC Bretigny (2013); Index, The Swedish Contemporary Art Foundation, Stockholm; The Showroom, London (2012); Kunstlerhaus Stuttgart (2010); The Serpentine Gallery (Sackler Center) (2010). Gibson’s films have screened at numerous experimental film venues and film festivals nationally and internationally including Light Industry, NY, Anthology Film Archives NY; LA Film Forum; Rotterdam International Film Festival; Experimenta, London Film Festival; and Oberhausen Short Film Festival. Gibson’s work was recently included in Assembly, A Recent Survey of Artist’s Film and Video in Britain, 2008-2013, Tate Britain, 2014. She has twice won the Rotterdam International Film Festival Tiger Award for short film, was nominated for the 2013 Jarman Award and shortlisted for the 2013-15 Max Mara Art Prize for Women. In 2014, Gibson was one of four shortlisted artists for the newly inaugurated 2014 Milton Keynes City Prize for the Visual Arts.
Gibson’s film Solo for Rich Man (2015) is currently on view at MUDAM Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean, Luxembourg and F for Fibonacci (2014) is currently on view at Art Sheffield, UK.
With forthcoming solo presentation at Grazer Kunstverein, Austria and inclusion in the group show The People’s Cinema at Kunstverein Salzburg, Austria (both 2016).
Michail Pirgelis (b. 1976, Essen, Germany) lives and works in Cologne, Germany.
In 2010 Pirgelis received the Audi Art Award for “New Positions” at Art Cologne, and was a resident artist at Schloss Ringenberg. In 2008 he was the first recipient to be awarded the Adolf Loos Prize from the Van den Valentyn Foundation, Cologne, and in 2007 he was awarded the Villa Romana Prize in Florence. His work has been included in solo and group exhibitions at Artothek, Cologne; Bundeskunsthalle, Bonn; Akademie der Kuenste, Berlin; Stadtmuseum Düsseldorf; Kunstmuseum Bonn; Thessaloniki Biennale; Museum Morsbroich, Leverkusen, and Istanbul Modern.
His work is currently on view (with David Ostrowski) at Leopold-Hoesch-Museum Düren, Germany.
Daniel Turner (b. 1983, Portsmouth, VA), lives and works in New York.
Recent solo exhibitions include ‘Daniel Turner’ at The Chinati Foundation, Marfa, TX and ‘2 220’ at Objectif Exhibitions, Antwerp. Group exhibitions include ‘Freezer Burn’ at Galerie im Taxispalais, Innsbruck, Austria (2015), Hauser & Wirth, New York (2014); ‘Art Unlimited’ at Art Basel (2014); ‘Éclat Attraction de la Ruine’, Université Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris (2014) and ‘L’expostion d’un Film’, Centre d’Art Contemporain / Fondation Arditis, Geneva (2014), Université Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris (20154)), University of California San Diego (2012), Muzeul National de Arta din Cluj-Napoca, Romania(2012), and The Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw, Poland (2011).
Turner served as visiting scholar at New York University (2009-2010) and was awarded The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Fellowship Award in 2005, 2006 and 2008.
His work is the subject of several monographs.
Turner’s work is currently included in The Forces Behind the Forms at the Kunstmuseum Krefeld, Museen Haus Lange und Haus Esters in Krefeld, Germany, which will travel to Kunstmuseum Thun, Switzerland this fall.
The artist and the gallery would like to thank Hamilton Rentals and ADI Solutions for their support.