The Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art (NGCA) is proud to announce the group show Crab Walk, curated by Ned McConnell and NGCA curator George Vasey. The exhibition travels from KARST in Plymouth, where it was presented earlier this year. While using the original show, Breakin' Up is Hard to Do, as a template, Crab Walk expands on it by introducing two new artists and further commissions as well as a brand new title. Crab Walk is a straight translation of the German phrase Krebsgang and was coined by the German writer Günter Grass to describe the urgent need to "look backwards to be able to move forwards". The exhibition formalises this term through a variety of curatorial approaches that perform a type of institutional archaeology. Documentation of previous exhibitions, archival material and memories of the building from staff and the public will be collated in a free newspaper that will be dispersed throughout the city. By creating a polyphonic history of the space, the show will counter the typical neutrality afforded white cube art galleries, excavating personal, as well as social narratives.
Crab Walk will present new work in a range of media, including sculpture, audio, film and painting that elide historical and contemporary motifs to explore different temporal registers. The starting point for the project came out of a discussion about the current state of Kazimir Malevich's Black Square (1915). The painting's previously pristine surface is now covered in a filigree of tiny cracks; it is literally and metaphorically breaking up. This entropy reveals a tension between the object and the image, between the cosmetic and immanent. Malevich's refusal for figurative and symbolic content was intended as a ground zero for art and - for Modernism in general - the start of a new world order. The painting's current state of decay reveals it to be an object in motion, dramatizing the shifting conditions of cultural production and reception over the last 100 years. The selection of artists and their subsequent presentation resists the traditional idea of a group exhibition. If Black Square was intended as a type of full stop, then Crab Walk proposes it to be more like a comma. The exhibition is part of an expansive and on-going conversation, and will be accompanied by a range of events, talks and readings.
Nicolas Deshayes, Alex Dordoy, Jennifer Douglas, Patrick Hough, Philomene Pirecki, Marie Toseland, Sally Troughton, Rosalind McLachlan & design work by Tom Merrell
The project has been kindly supported by KARST, Sunderland City Council and Arts Council England.