An Exhibition Remembered

V22 Ashwin Street, The basement project space 18 January – 24 February 2008

It was on concurrently at V22 with Jasper Joffe’s beauty show, in the basement gallery rooms. You can’t see out but outside was brought in by the sound of whistling singing wind through an installed pipe. From Joffe’s exuberant painted enfleshment of previously photographic images which is experienced as total, real, you went to where there are images of individuals like snow or cloud or phantasm, but which in memory subsist obsessively imprinted clear, large. Perhaps this impression in the memory is because of the kind of engagement the work exacts from the viewer. The images elicit contrasting responses: alarm. (In the video projection, Bath, has she drowned? Is the water going to turn red? What nakedness is going to happen? In the video projection, The Lovers, are they alive?) One contemplates the beauty of these images of these young, the lovely peaceful colours also. The infinitesimal movements of the subjects defuse and yet intensify the anxiety of the viewer who searches for a sign of life in them, seems to find it, relaxes briefly but then suffers a lack of confidence in his /her perception, unsure that the sign was in fact seen.

So one is nudged into a sort of confusion, in which the only way out is further waiting and watching. This interplay between the work and the viewer’s effortful wondering, his/her search for confirmation, is perhaps what ‘fixes’ the images in the mind: it remains there, but separate from oneself because of the interlocution with one’s own perceptions and responses about the image. The ‘self’ of the image and the self of the viewer are brought into clear focus as different but equally valued. This separateness is possibly what satisfies: in the gaps between the tiny movements there has been made time for looking, time for one’s own (thus validated) uncertainties. The video projection The Lovers shows a young man and young woman in bed(s). Their similar postures suggest relationship, but they are not together. They each have a different blanket to warm them at the same point. Why blankets? Always questions. But I feel I should shut off curiosity: they are in bed, dressed but not really dressed. Then there is the alarm felt (are they ok? Are they breathing?) I’m questioning again. It is their crooked ‘fallen’ postures that recall photojournalism of victims of disaster or massacre. Again I’m unsure of my response – are they lovely young people chilled out on their beds, or are they fallout from some holocaust?

In the video projection Forest, a young woman in a coat stands so still. Look long enough and squirrels play behind her. She will stand forever one feels, monumental but ordinary, girl heroin icon. The wind plays louder, as I pass the sound installation Wind carrier to the last room. The room has a row of small paintings, mostly in tones of black and white. At first it looks like a series of prints, but they’re hand-drawn and painted. They speak of self-abnegation but simultaneously of the assertion of the artist reengaged with the physical medium, dark though it is.

Gillian Wright 25 February 2008

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