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Corinna Spencer

*There and Everywhere* at Transition. *Lucifer Over London* at The Rifflemaker

‘There and Everywhere’
Helen Couchman, Liz Harrison, David Webb
Transition Gallery
London
E8
6-29th November

    Like the numerous luggage labels from different locations pasted onto battered suitcases, artists’ journeys now take centre stage on the cultural landscape. In his manifesto of altermodernity Nicolas Bourriaud proclaims that in our era of globalisation, artists have become nomads ‘wandering in time, space and mediums’. And that their work now ‘arises out of negotiations between different agents from different cultures and geographical locations.’ (Transition)

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    Untitled (Collecting and Dropping) like the fan around which the piece revolves, is an open work, touching upon a range of overlapping issues and ideas. It raises thoughts about the artist’s relation (as a citizen of the UK residing in China) to tourism, to observation and to being, in turn, herself observed. It also raises thoughts about the inevitably esoteric codes of a foreign culture in which one finds oneself still a stranger, an outsider, no matter how long one stays. (Helen Couchman)
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Helen Couchman from the series ‘Collecting and dropping’ photographic print 2007-2009

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David Webb
David Webb’s concept for the exhibition began with his grandmothers journey, by sea, from Tanzania to London in 1955. Webb selected Couchman and Harrison to explore the themes of travel and ancestry. Standing out for me are Couchman’s photographs so delicate and yet powerful. See the rest of the series ‘collecting and dropping’ HERE.

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Documentation 2004
The exhibit got me thinking about travels and their impact on me as Artist and indivudual, I cant claim to have immersed myself in a new culture, and travel is a gift, but the places I have chosen to visit have indeed opened a door to thoughts of ancestry and altered, permanently, the course of my focus. Documentation made of my travels reminds me of that. The exhibit reconnected me to that experience.

Lucifer Over London
Artists Anonymous
The Riflemaker
21 September – 21 November
London
W1

    Artists Anonymous are a collective of three painters, photographers and filmmakers. They describe themselves as primarily painters but all three media are used in their installations. Often the time-based media of performance and film are utilised in the same way as other artists plan and develop projects through drawing. (Riflemaker)

This was my first visit to the gallery, I liked the unrestored feel of the place, it also feels temporary in some ways which will add to its versatility, small but perfectly formed too.

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I have wanted to catch an AA exhibit for a while now, and really pleased that I did. I realise that I have included more text than the average post on this blog but having read the exhibition catalogue I felt that the commentary was appropriate here, if edited down.

    The artists themselves always appear in their work but as a collective they forego their individual identities to collaborate on a permanent basis. They operate within agreed rules established when they first met at art school in Berlin in 2001. Agreeing at that time no individual would ever work independently of the group. They would always operate as Artists Anonymous. (Riflemaker)

That’s a serious commitment, and one that I don’t think I could make at any point in my career, and it makes this group of artists all the more fascinating to me.

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    ..Doubling and reversal, in and through painting and its mirroring in photography: Artists Anonymous bring painting and photography into direct contact with each other. Instead of the absent photograph providing the model for the painting which is present, their paintings are presented in pairs with their ‘afterimages’, photographs of the painting in negative colour-reversal, presented at the same scale as the painting. That the paintings are produced from photographic sources, then doubled through reversal in the paired photograph, sets these pairings as dialectical loops, in which the original image is no longer important. Colour negatives, in contrast to black and white negative images, have a visual interest that goes beyond their status as ‘negatives’.( JJ Charlesworth 2009)
        Not included in the exhibit:
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    Artists Anonymous suggest that these images should be seen an aesthetic reality in and for themselves. What counts is the experience of the doubling and inversion for itself – an experience which doesn’t prompt the viewer to search for the ‘origin’ of the image, but rather encourages us to be aware of the artwork’s capacity to overcome the subordinate relationship of artwork to reality – whether painterly or photographic. AA’s images do not represent, but present the condition of the image when art attempts to address reality.( JJ Charlesworth 2009)

Its true, I didnt/dont search for the origin of the work, I revel in the image placed in front of me, I look for the double, as an extra layer to my entertainment, but only because I know to expect it. Everyone portrayed seems *caught in the act* but unashamed. The double exists for me as a sinister look at the second layer of the event or character.

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    “We’re anonymous not because we want to be anonymous as artists or people but because we want the work we create to be anonymous and free from assumptions that viewers might make from meeting anyone of us individually.’Artists Anonymous (Riflemaker)


The exhibition is small in regards to the works on show, which is why I have included some of my favorites from past exhibits as further example and because I am such a fan of the work.

    The world of AA is strange, but recognisable. A world of fantastical figures, or of figures in clown masks (but not masked clowns), of erotic or pornographic encounters, of bodies that are disguised or transformed, all bathed in the acidic, kaleidoscopic light of AA’s inverted palette. But while the subjects often seem exotic, these scenes cannot be described as fictions. They do not pretend to refer to a self-contained reality elsewhere, whether fictional or fantastic. They are instead stagings, forms of orchestrated display, like arrested theatre. They are scenes of excess and violence, play and disaster. Scenes steeped in the visual forms of the commodities of urban mass culture – although these are the trash of commodity culture, not the slick products generated by brand industry and the corporate media.( JJ Charlesworth 2009)

Text: *Three dialectical inversions: images and afterimages of Artists Anonymous* JJ Charlesworth 2009

Apologies again for the quality of some of the photographs in this post…BUT I have a new camera now, so that should help.

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