Exhibition

Alexa Wright: Out of Order

22 May 2009 – 21 Jun 2009

London Gallery West

London, United Kingdom

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  • Northwick Park

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About

London Gallery West is pleased to present an exhibition of four works by Alexa Wright: 'I', Suspect, Killers and Cover Story. The works confront their audience with images and personal narratives that are designed to invite conflicting emotional and intellectual responses. In doing this, they question the processes by which the self and its 'others' are constructed and established in our culture. 'I' is a series of digitally manipulated colour photographs, made with the help of people with congenital physical disabilities. This work comes out of a longstanding interest in the relationship between human identity and its manifestation in the body. In each image a different disability is superimposed onto the body of the artist to produce a convincing composite figure. The figures are located in ornate settings, in which various two and three-dimensional classical images of bodies further trouble the process of categorisation by inviting comparison or association with the bodies of the subjects depicted. Suspect is an installation consisting of three composite portrait photographs and a spoken narrative activated by sensors as the viewer approaches. The narrative is edited from a conversation with Bobby Cummings, an ex-contract killer and reformed London gangster. The three photographs are exhibited as a line-up of 'suspects', any of whom could be the person heard in the audio, but none of whom really exist. In Cover Story, a blurred shape is projected onto a black rectangle in a dark space. After a couple of minutes this shape gradually resolves into a human face, but with no clear features or identity. Beside the projection is a monitor showing black and white footage of the face of a woman — a sign language interpreter — articulating her experience of living with facial difference. The video is silent and subtitled. By reducing the spoken word to text, the work draws attention to the disjunction between information conveyed through language, and the visible signals conveyed by the face. The blurred face is a formless, visceral image that defies language and resists classification. It functions like a blank canvas onto which the viewer can project an imagined face for the narrated subject. Killers examines individual and collective perceptions of self and 'other'. In the installation plain, institutional chairs are placed at a number of plywood booths, reminiscent of polling booths or confessionals. At each, an autobiographical monologue spoken by someone who has committed murder can be accessed through headphones. These are edited from conversations between the artist and men and women serving life sentences for murder. Killers explores the effects of a behavioural 'monstrousness' not fixed in place by a visual image. It proposes that the relation between the self and its 'others' is subjective and dependent on individual values.

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