Obsessive Compulsive Order: Repetition Explored In Copperfield’s Opening Exhibition

With so many galleries closing or displaced by significant rent increases in the last 6 months, Copperfield, a new gallery guided by William Lunn, (formally of Sumarria Lunn Gallery, 2008 – 2014) launches on 24th May. The gallery unites a growing un-official steering group of collectors, curators, critics and artists, who have taken up residence in the area. Copperfield is housed in a converted former religious building on Copperfield street, minutes from Jerwood Space and Tate Modern. The gallery responds to a growing move south by contemporary art galleries and institutions.

Their first exhibition titled: Obsessive Compulsive Order explores the desire for repetition and order, which forms an inherent part of the human psyche. This exhibition considers the creative application of repetitive processes, motifs and meticulous order found in contemporary art practice. The artists lead us to consider why human beings are so drawn to repeated, ritualised actions and to motifs which become increasingly familiar as they are presented over and over again.

As the work of Alistair Mackie and Yun-Kyung Jeong reminds us, repetition can be found throughout nature. Borrowing motifs and materials from the natural world, these artists point to the rational systems of order which can be found in all organic life. However both impose a further human cultural order onto the natural through their artistic processes. Conversely Tom Dale, David Rickard and Oscar Santillan take man-made objects and images as a starting point, exploring mass production, advertising and media in terms of repetitive human behaviour.

To create All the Blinks (2010-11), Ecuadorian artist Oscar Santillan watched every film starring James Dean taking a screenshot whenever the actor was shown blinking and presenting these images en masse in order to produce a complete static record.  Repeatedly presenting the vulnerability in the moment of blinking subvert the machismo associated with this actor and in this quantity becomes quite unsettling. Santillan takes an unconsciously repeated human action and applies his own repetitive process in order to bring this almost imperceptible ritual to the fore.

David Rickard, One Hundred Thousand, (2004-5) created over the course of a year, in which he counted and joined exactly 100,000  ‘hundreds and thousands’ to form a small sphere. For Rickard, art and production are inherently and importantly linked; this work is presented as the evidence of a painstaking artistic process, whereby the process takes on more importance than the result. The work also functions on belief – since it is impossible to tell with the naked eye how many sweets are in the sphere we must trust the artist’s statement.

In order to create Deadspace (2011), Tom Dale has meticulously collected printed advertisements for watches and clocks from around the world. He identified that all of  these time pieces were set by advertisers to show an idealised time of ten past ten: ‘The hands are balanced and symmetrical, the time evocative of the the first morning coffee’. The sculpture which houses this collection of cuttings turns almost imperceptibly slowly, evoking the inevitable passage of time while undermining the static and repetitive conception suggested by the advertisements.

Korean artist Yun-Kyung Jeong’s works are composed through the repetition of a small leaf-shaped motif. These motifs are combined and re-combined into shapes evocative of a range of conflicting forms derived from both nature and architecture. In Axonometric Jungle VI (2013) Jeong uses a repetitive process in order to exploit the constructive possibilities within the constraints of this one constant. The process is surprisingly organic; with pre-structuring kept to a minimum, the marks grow into form around construction lines that are intentionally retained to suggest an everongoing process.

To produce Complex System 58 and 59 Alastair Mackie collected and processed cuttlefish bones into geometric tiles, homogenising the irregularity of this natural material further by piecing the tiles into interlocking patterns. Here we see a tension between human culture and nature that is often present in his work, an unweighted consideration of man’s desire to find control through order. the elements in Complex System 58 and 59 vary slightly in colour and texture in spite of their inherent natural order and further human processing. Despite all attempts there are no exact replicas in either nature or human production; we must accept that true order and control are a fallacy.

The program will aim to balance real commercial support for emerging and established artists alongside offering a regular platform to less commercial projects that may not be viable elsewhere. The forthcoming program is set to include a long overdue London performance of Tom Dale’s ‘Department of the interior’ (a black Leatherette bouncy castle complete with fairytale crenulations), and a first London solo show for Eric Van Hove, building on the success of his centre piece project at the Marrakech Biennale:

‘One of the star exhibits at this year’s event, for instance, is a work by Belgian artist Eric van Hove in which a car engine, based on the Mercedes-Benz V12, has been constructed using precious materials by 40 Moroccan craftsmen. The point of the work is to highlight the potential of the 3m or so craftsmen said to be working in the country.’ (FT)

Photo: David Rickard, UnGestalt, (2014) Modified aluminium air tank, 90cm x 20cm x 83cm. Created by repeatedly drilling an aluminium gas canister, collecting the debris and melting it into an amorphous form that is draped over the structure, ‘UnGestalt’ refers to the german word which translates as ‘deformed’ or ‘misshapen’, whilst also suggesting an opposition to Gestalt theory which is based on the idea that ‘The whole is other than the sum of the parts’.

Obsessive Compulsive Order Alastair Mackie, David Rickard, Oscar Santillan, Tom Dale, Yun-Kyung Jeong. Copperfield 6 Copperfield Street London SE1 0EP Wed – Sat, 12 – 6 and by appointment at any time. Opens 24 May runs till July 8th.

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