AboutGasworks presents a solo exhibition by Gail Pickering, featuring two recent video works, Dissident Sunset (2007) and Hungary! And Other Economies (2006), installed specifically for the space and shown in their entirety for the first time in the UK.
Pickering has become known for her ambitious performance works which have included a six-week durational performance by a bodybuilder at Matt's Gallery, London in 2004, and a series of evolving performances as part of Here We Dance at Tate Modern earlier this year. Her collaborative work with both amateur and professional actors proposes a form of âscripting' which brings together historical and contemporary references through an intertextual playfulness. The resulting scenarios switch between imposing tableaux and performing autonomy, raising questions about the nature of political and social ritual. In recent years, Pickering has extended her interest in performance to include video, which is the focus of this exhibition.
In Hungary! Pickering takes a group of hired porn actors from Marseille to the Marquis de Sade's chateau in the Luberon (South of France), a ruin now owned by fashion mogul Pierre Cardin, to enact scenes from German playwright Peter Weiss' seminal 1963 play Marat/Sade. Dressed in counterfeit retro-futuristic designs of Cardin, the actors shift between being themselves and their assigned characters, repeatedly taking turns to stage an encounter between the philosophies of the Marquis de Sade and Jean-Paul Marat.
The journey begins in Marseille in an ordinary minibus adorned with vinyl lettering reading Pierre Cardin". Whilst on this journey the actors improvise crude interpretations of the script, incorporating their own experiences of working with porn films. On site the women act out some of the play's most political lines, offering a startling contrast to the preceding and following scenes and thus reflecting on the lateral associations found throughout the film. The actors eventually revert back to playing themselves, the men showing off their virility by doing push ups on a hot tarmac road. While the script of Weiss' Marat/Sade draws together historical moments from both pre- and post-revolutionary France, Pickering initiates further encounters whereby the radical thinking of de Sade and Marat meets the erotised play of the porn actors in Sade's former chateau, now site of a Cardin-sponsored theatre festival.