Walking through a ground floor room at the superb Berlinische Gallerie, I had a strange feeling that I wasn’t alone. In fact, I was surrounded by figures, including children, a receptionist and other guests breathing like human beings and appreciating the art on the wall.
It took me a moment to realise that I was the only sentient being in the room and these ‘people’ that I was surrounded by were mannequins who all formed part of American artists Edward and Nancy Kienholz’s installation The Art Show. The figures were grotesque – ugly, empty, bored figures with car parts instead of mouths breathing loudly. The vast room was used to great effect and every detail perfectly conceived – and I got the distinct impression this was a scathing attack on the art world as money-driven and pretentious.
The gallery also had a fantastic collection of Modernist art including Dadaism, Constructivism, Futurism, Expressionism and much more from both German and international artists. Some of the themes explored in this collection include the city, industrialisation, oppression under totalitarianism and war. Well worth a visit.
Following my first viewing of Christian Marclay’s The Clock at Nottingham’s New Art Exchange, I had been looking forward to the full 24-hour screening last Friday which I mentioned in my previous entry.
Visiting an art gallery in the wee small hours added a surreal element to this already unconventional experience. At times, the clock inches slowly along before picking up the pace and moving to a crescendo, with the most dramatic moment coming at midnight (and there are a wealth of film clips depicting the New Year’s Eve countdown). The narrative – which at first seems deconstructed by editing full length films into short clips – is in fact created again under the new umbrella theme of ‘time’. Old and new are fused seamlessly together so that they both exist in a continuing present but one that is creeping forward leaving all the fictional worlds and characters in a shadowy past.
This year, Nottingham is playing host to The British Art Show 7 , the five-yearly exposition of the best the British art world has to offer. There are some strong (and not so strong) pieces across the three sites (Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham Castle and the New Art Exchange) which all make for interesting viewing.
But the stand out piece for me is Christian Marclay’s The Clock, a 24-hour-long film meticulously made up of film and television clips each telling the time, either with clocks or people announcing it and it is played out in real time.
Everyone will recognise at least some of the clips – from Laurel and Hardy to Twin Peaks right through to Inspector Morse and the X-Files. It cuts across time zones, genre, high and low art, comedy, drama and much more. But the over-arching theme is the perpetual movement of time. There are even some scenes where there is no clock – just someone looking at a clock – and it reminds us of how time structures and gives meaning to our lives.
Some of the clips also cross reference each other and although there is a sense that time is in perpetual motion, but themes and ideas – not least the over-arching theme of time – constantly recur and refer back to the past.
There will be a 24-hour screening of the film on 10th December from 10am. It finishes at 10am on 11th December and admission is free.
During a brief trip to York last week, I visited York St Mary’s – an art space that makes use of one of the city’s many church buildings (www.yorkstmarys.org.uk).
The church is currently home to an installation called Flood by Manchester-born artist Susan Stockwell (www.susanstockwell.co.uk). Utilising the high ceilings Flood consists of old computer components cascading down from the roof like a stalactite. The installation was about contrast – the ancient and the new; the natural stonework of the church and the synthetic nature of the computer parts and the grey and the colourful. But the pairing was also incredibly complementary in both their vast scale and the sense that neither the church (which is deconsecrated) nor the computer parts are no longer useful in their original sense – but have both found new meaning in the 21st Century.
Flood is on show until the end of October.