Exhibition

Daniel Burley, The Intricate Life Habits and Rituals of the Goblin

6 Jun 2021 – 28 Aug 2021

Regular hours

Monday
Closed
Tuesday
Closed
Wednesday
Closed
Thursday
12:00 – 18:00
Friday
12:00 – 18:00
Saturday
12:00 – 18:00
Sunday
12:00 – 18:00

Free admission

GAO

London
England, United Kingdom

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In Daniel Burley’s second show for Gao Gallery the artist explores the possibility of using world building as a material. Exploring conventions of representation and referencing popular culture through a a series of life sized goblin sculptures.

About

In The Intricate Life Habits And Rituals Of The Goblin (TILHAROTG) the artist Daniel Burley generates an emotive aesthetic language based around using novelty world building (creating a fictional narrative around a ridiculous or tongue in cheek concept) as a material medium for expression. 

In The Intricate Life Habits And Rituals Of The Goblin (TILHAROTG) the artist Daniel Burley generates an emotive aesthetic language based around using novelty world building (creating a fictional narrative around a ridiculous or tongue in cheek concept) as a material medium for expression. 

The show marks a departure from a conceptual focus on the artist’s biography and family histories. TILHAROTG instead conceptually represents political considerations, in particular re-representing goblins from the simplified evil characters depicted in northern European folkloric tales and contemporary fantasy. Instead giving a more complex mix of character traits, activities and interpersonal relationships between the goblins and their anthropomorphically animated environment. These folkloric tales originated to warn and dissuade children from interactions with societally reproached social groups through simplifying their characteristics into monstrous and pathetic depictions of goblins. In contrast to these folk tales, Burley’s goblins exhibit the kinds of behaviour associated with children - they can be seen to have childish desires and fears (looking under a log, picking flowers, being tickled by spiders), and thus are connected to the innocence which the tales were injudiciously designed to protect.

TILHAROTG as a conceptual project seeks to reflect a hybridisation of contemporary cultural identities within the notion of goblins as scavengers and outcasts/outsiders to society - linking this to disruption of various mainstream aesthetics and sensibilities. 

In this way Burley uses novelty fashion as a tool to derail certain operations of clothing as a ‘normalised’ background or as status symbol, instead either treating clothing as a novelty pointless and ‘throw away’ event, or/and in alignment with specific cultural identities connected to Burley’s representation of goblins - juxtaposing garments haphazardly, they are often stitched together as if found in pieces and re-assembled, re-igniting life to what is abandoned or discarded. The connecting stitches along seams of cloth also act as analogous to a motif within details in the show of boundaries being crossed or broken as an act of animation or creation (picking of flowers, spiders crossing boundaries of clothes onto skin, crossing over a log to discover a flower underneath).

Sculpturally Burley uses aesthetics of Disneyland style animatronics and kitsch ceramic domestic table sculpture. These aesthetic forms, often considered tasteless, are used in connection to the idea of goblins as cultural spurn from their respective society(or societies). They are also aesthetically used for expressive narrative building and in this way operate functionally. The placement of the sculptures in the exhibition also links to the logic of these aesthetics; aligned in proximity to one another, each facing a similar direction, as if on a mantelpiece or in a cabinet and placed diagonally, insinuating the inherent inbuilt inutility and therefore novelty of jaunty angled display. This placement, whilst referencing tastelessness and novelty, also affirms a sense of belonging, just as these trinkets are given a place to belong within the home, by implication, the placement attempts to derive a residence for the displaced.

A further conscious focus for Burley in the exhibition is on particular moments of unanimity / oneness between perceptions of what is natural and what is artificial (e.g. colours witnessed within nature becoming neon or psychedelic or formally seeming balanced and constructed in an unnatural way). This partially derives from particular forms of contemporary culture’s embrace of artificial aesthetics and the ways that these aesthetics affect how people engage with, understand and experience nature.

This seamless combining of artificial and natural and the confusion of a line between the two, intersects with the literal seams of the clothing, broken by stitches, in that they are borders that are disrupted, conveying a sense of compounding identities into a singularity which cannot exist in any one cultural sphere and so must exist in-between many or outside of any. 

In the first room, the three reliefs, like logos or symbols, act as a simple visual language representing different levels of abstraction in communication, similarly investigating the synonymy of the natural with the artificial and making studies of identity through hybridisation of aesthetic references. Each one roughly carved from cheap ply, as if scavenged and carved by the goblins, but also painted white and blending with the walls as a way of disrupting the white space of the gallery and embedding the Goblin’s presence into the history that the white walls represent, acting as defacements. 

TILHAROTG is partly based upon a currently unreleased novelty album by Daniel Burley of the same title, which consists of 23 tracks, each of which is titled after a significant habit or event in an imagined goblin life cycle. TILHAROTG the sculptural show exists as the first part of a longer term project in which Burley hopes to generate a goblin sculpture for 20 of the 23 album tracklist, resulting in a final exhibition of 20 goblins expressing a variety of emotions and activities.

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Exhibiting artists

Daniel Burley

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