Modern Art Oxford presents its final exhibition in a series of shows celebrating the Gallery’s 50th anniversary; concluding its KALEIDOSCOPE series with ‘The Vanished Reality’. This multi-generational exhibition presents work by Marcel Broodthaers, Hans Haacke, Iman Issa, Darcy Lange, Louise Lawler, Maria Loboda, Kerry James Marshall, Katja Novitskova, and Hardeep Pandhal.
The nine artists work with various media, presenting photography, sculpture, painting, video and installation, juxtaposing material and form with the socio-political, economic and environmental frameworks within which the works were made; Art that is – or has become – reflective and temporal contemplations of its varying eras, as we simultaneously revisit Modern Art Oxford’s fascinating history.
This concluding exhibition is the last of a series of interconnected shows spanning 2016, which has seen the Gallery take a nostalgic journey through some of its curatorial highlights from the past 50 years, presenting works from across this span of time and recontextualising them with contemporary works of art and the present day; highlighting everything from globalisation, temporality, consumerism, consciousness, the body, and cultural identity.
In fact, this final show in the celebratory series ends with that particular reflection: how the works on display are mediated by the context in which they appear – including the physical and temporal location in relation to their inception – and how the curation of works serve to recontextualise the art in relation to other works. A fitting curatorial decision to end the year-long narrative journey of KALEIDOSCOPE.
Among the wide array of works on display – including Louise Lawler’s self-reflexive ‘tracings’ of her own photographic works superimposed on the gallery walls, recontextualising them with the physical and cultural environment, to Hans Haacke’s, ‘A Breed Apart’, 1978; an amusing and unflinching attack on capitalism and political power, exposing systems of influence with the artist’s assault on British Leyland for their seeming assistance with Apartheid – are the giant cut-out animals of Katja Novitskova’s ‘Approximations Series’. The artist appropriates images of animals from the internet; their flat cut-out nature is a signifier of their origins, as the digital image is reproduced exponentially, multiplying like a virus as – ironically and horrifically – their source: the animals themselves, head toward the oblivion of possible extinction. All the works form a reclassified system, a dwindling eco-system temporally recontextualised and replaced by a perpetual virtual reality system.
A core dynamic of this curatorial focus on context and temporality is the video installation ‘Studies of Teaching in Four Oxfordshire Schools, UK 1977’ by conceptual artist Darcy Lange. The series was shown with black-and-white photographs in the exhibition Work Studies in Schools, curated by Mark Francis, at what was then the Museum of Modern Art Oxford, in 1977. The video studies of teachers’ performances become almost ‘performative’ in nature, and were extended by then videotaping the teachers’ and pupils’ reaction and analysis of those very recordings – in conversation with the artist, a truly self-reflexive recontextualised system – now placed in the context of a fascinating historical document of a temporal, sociological, and cultural location. The epitome of what this show – and perhaps the entire KALEIDOSCOPE series – wished to represent.
Words: Paul Black @Artjourno
Photos: P A Black © 2016
Lead image: Katja Novitskova, Approximations Series, detail, KALEIDOSCOPE: The Vanished Reality, Modern Art Oxford. Photo P A Black © 2016
KALEIDOSCOPE: The Vanished Reality – Modern Art Oxford – until 31 December 2016