System Failure29. Aug - 5. Sep 13 / ended Great Western Studios
Free Admission, open to the public
Private View: 6-9pm
The Contemporary London Presents: System Failure
Sandra Erbacher, Rowena Harris, Rowena Hughes, Jess Littlewood, Ines Rebelo & Eddie Villanueva
Curated by Sandra Erbacher
Space is always under construction, in a perpetual process of being negotiated, choreographed, made and un-made. Fluid and non-hierarchical, it is an anti-system without centre or apparent unifying motif. By embracing this incomplete conception of space first proposed by Deleuze and Guattari in A Thousand Plateaus, System Failure offers a snapshot of a ceaselessly shifting spatio-temporal constellation. The artists presented each interrogate a spatial organizing principle (or the absence thereof) in their work. While Rowena Harris’ work investigates the intersection between virtual space and the material world, Ines Rebelo traces outer space onto a wall in the exhibition space traversed by the viewer. Rowena Hughes employs geometry and science in combination with found imagery to complicate our sense of spatial logic, whereas Sandra Erbacher examines the intersection of space with time as an organizing principle. At the centre of Eddie Villanueva’s practice, is an understanding of architectural space as an archeological site, as a collection of surface layers and histories. Formally, the featured works play with pattern, repetition, as well as contingency. Their arrangement in the context of this exhibition, however, ultimately de-stabilizes any linear structure or singular meaning and instead allows for multiple spatial narratives by activating the in-between. Thus, the dialogue opened up by these works equals a ‘system failure’, revealing space as an open, organic, and heterogeneous formation.
Sandra Erbacher’s practice revolves around an investigation of ideological systems and comes into being through an act of bricolage: a sampling and re-mixing of found images and text from different socio-historical contexts, which simultaneously evoke yet never fully materialize into a coherent narrative. In particular, Erbacher deconstructs the idea of the monument by emptying out its function. The resulting objects seem lost in time and adrift in history appearing before the viewer as findings of a forgotten civilisation. #123 is an industrial flip clock that has been manipulated to corrupt a correct reading of time, instead fast-forwarding or slowing down to almost a halt. It is positioned ambiguously in the gallery in the guise of a functional object, yet, at closer inspection, reveals itself to be a decoy.
Sandra Erbacher (b.1978, Germany) lives and works in Milwaukee and London and has a BFA from Camberwell College of Art, London (2009). Select exhibitions: Domestic Dissonance, Circuit 12 Contemporary, Dallas (2013); Global Positioning System, School of Visual Arts, NYC (2012); So here we are, Kunstverein Speyer, Germany (2011); When family fails, Umbrella Gallery, Leeds (2010); Free School, Five Years, London (2010). She is the recipient of a University of Wisconsin Fellowship (2011-14) and winner of the city of Madison Blink Grant 2012.
Rowena Harris’ focuses her attention on the ways in which a tangible material, or sculptural object, has a simultaneous online form, and how this alters the work’s perception within systems of circulation outside of the gallery. The material - gestural language of Harris’ sculptural work activates a bodily understanding through sensory experience in opposition to a screen based digital reception reflecting her interest in the alienation of the body in the age of the screen. Accreted Part 1 is the first of a series of 3 works that use the term compression as felt and physical gesture as well as within its digital terminology. Here, she uses t-shirts that were painted closed until hard and brittle, folded to approximately A4 size and stacked upon each other.
Rowena Harris (b.1985, Norfolk) lives and works in London and holds an MFA from Goldsmiths College, London (2010) and a BFA from University College Falmouth, UK (2008). Forthcoming solo exhibition: Parts, Coleman Projects, London. Recent exhibitions: Open Cube, White Cube, London (2013), Cold Compress, Drei Gallery, Cologne (2012), No More Icons, Rod Barton Gallery, London (2012), Believing in Things, Van Horbourg Gallery, Basel, (2011). She was selected for New Contemporaries in 2010.
Underlying Rowena Hughes’ work is an interest in the interplay between order and disorder, where the systematic and intentional meets the accidental and intuitive. Hughes’ prints are informed by a concern with physics and mathematics and combine abstract geometric forms with found images, resulting in an ambiguous play with spatial logic through the layering of the graphic and photographic. The diamond shapes used in an on-going series of prints are based on Penrose tiling, a complex two-dimensional geometric pattern with particular mathematical properties. Generated compositions are screen-printed onto found images from second hand scientific books, whose materiality and history as objects adds another layer of contingency.
Rowena Hughes (b.1979, London) graduated from the Slade in 2011(MFA) and completed her BA at Goldsmiths (2001). Recent solo shows: From the Slopes of the Curves, Galerie Renner Prinz, Vienna (2012) and Soft Parallels, Room, London (2011). Select group exhibitions: In the Air Tonight, Galerie Gebr. Lehmann Berlin (2013), The Architectural Object, Ileana Tounta, Athens (2013), New Contemporaries 2010, ICA, London (2011) and A Foundation as part of Liverpool Biennial.
Through the appropriation and fragmentation of found images Jess Littlewood creates complex eerie landscapes that are at once familiar and alien, where the struggles and tribulations of mankind are tested and the tumultuous will of nature is played out. The transient settlers in these landscapes remain unseen, yet the footprint of absence alludes to signs of human determination, broken down hierarchies and a utopian desire for something new. There is no chronology in these imagined spaces, they are at once future, past and present, while alluding to the long trajectory of failed utopian efforts throughout the history of humankind.
Jess Littlewood (b.1988, Surrey) lives and works in London and studied at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, University of the Arts, London. Recent solo shows: Island Folly, Bearspace, London (2013); Future Plans, The Contemporary London, London (2012) and Out of Ruins, Hotel Elephant, London (2011). Select Group shows: Paper Thin, Bearspace, London (2013); Angelika Open, Angelika Studios, High Wycombe (2012); Earth Works, PPOW Gallery, New York (2012) and Per Annum:12, The Contemporary London, London (2012).
Inês Rebelo’s explores the relationship between peculiar scientific facts and the empirical experience of everyday moments. Rebelo’s vocabulary includes images and text from scientific publications, which she uses to map distant events and patterns in outer space such as stars, planetary nebulae and galaxies. These re-contextualised and re-presented facts often carry a humorous tone by confronting us with the absurdity and ultimate futility of mapping as an authoritative spatial organizing principle. In 1 Attempt to Find the Snark #5 a wall is perforated according to the circular chart of the constellations of the Northern Hemisphere. Different drill-sized holes reflect the intensity of the various stars inviting the viewer to a singular experience between DIY bricolage and a visit to the planetarium.
Inês Rebelo (b.1981, Lisbon) she lives and works in London and Lisbon and has an MFA from Goldsmiths College (2006). Solo exhibitions: This Otherworld, The Bun House, London (2011), Extra-Ordinário, Galeria Monumental, Lisbon (2011) and Do It Yourself (night sky experience), The Old Police Station, London (2009). Select group shows: Parallels of Latitude, UBM, London (2012); So Here We Are, Kunstverein Speyer, Speyer (2011) and What Can a Desert Island Do? Seventeen Gallery, London (2007). She is a fellow of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (2006).
Eddie Villanueva’s often large-scale installations and paintings are investigations of ‘site’ as a place that contains simultaneously existing human histories, some hidden or only evident by trace fragments. For Villanueva, not only are sites compilations of worn surfaces, but collections of varied and at times conflicting intentions. They do not necessarily follow a linear progression of development, and their forms and histories are continuously erased and re-written. Within this context, Villanueva’s work can be understood as a collection of sites explored through varied material means such as print, paint, wood and tape. These are re-articulated and super-imposed onto the existing architecture of an exhibition space or explored within the parameters of the canvas via the lens of the history of painting.
Eddie Villanueva (b.1983, Milwaukee) received his BFA from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee (2005), and an MFA from the University of Wisconsin Madison (2012). His work was featured in SCOPE, Miami (2012); Global Positioning System, the School of Visual Arts, NYC (2012); North American Graduate Art Survey, the Katherine E. Nash Gallery, Minneapolis (2011), and the Wisconsin Triennial, the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art (2010). He is the recipient of a Joan Mitchell Foundation MFA Grant (2012).
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