Of course, there may be inner anguishes, but still there’s an abandon, a thirst – before it inevitably leaves, usually gradually, sometimes suddenly. Many & Beautiful Things is as much about those points when things change, as it is about a mind-set that it won’t. And perhaps a nostalgia for more innocent times.
Many & Beautiful Things features artists Naomi Frears, Binelde Hyrcan, Melanie Manchot, Santiago Mostyn, Beth Emily Richards and Antler Press in collaboration with students from Plymouth College of Art. A version of this exhibition was first presented at Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange, autumn 2018, curated by Blair Todd.
For Many and Beautiful Things, Plymouth based artist Beth Emily Richards returns her attention to an icon of hyper-masculinity, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Arnie has spawned thousands of fan art images and fanfic stories, and demonstrates the meme mutations of celebrity icons. Arnie has embodied many disparate ideologies; as body-builder, Hollywood star, signifier of the American dream, a figurehead of the political right and as an environmentalist. Richards’ installation plays with replicating pop culture icons in a repeating wallpaper pattern, featuring appropriated fan art of Arnie, printed using bodybuilders’ tanning oil as pigment. The work explores fannish desire - including reinscribing the myth of the fan-subject through fan art and fanfic practices; pre-teen bedrooms as celebrity-shrine - deifying the fan-subject via posters, stickers, and wallpaper; and 90s nostalgia - a yearning for the familiar during strange contemporary times.
In response to the exhibition Many & Beautiful Things, students from Plymouth College of Art have worked with Antler Press to produce work that offers an insight into youth. Fragments of Youth considers the photographers’ own lives, and those of their peers as the subject matter, communicating the feeling of coming of age in Plymouth & The South West. What is universal, and what is specific? How do their lives relate to those of previous generations? What is it like to be young?
Fragments of Youth presents work by a collective of artists from the student body of Plymouth College of Art. The large scale print has been curated by Oliver Udy of Antler Press, a small independent publisher that makes and sells photographic books, zines and other editions.
Paris-based Binelde Hyrcan’s video work Cambeck shows four young boys on an Angolan beach who strive for the ‘good life’, mimicking adult concepts of wealth and success.Through their naïve and ingenious game, driving in a limousine made of sand, we hear them voice their dreams and vision of the world, with a playful, swaggering confidence.
London-based Melanie Manchot’s series of short films is a study of a girl growing into a young woman. Manchot filmed her daughter with Super 8 for a minute each month from the age of 11 to 18 years. Presented on nine monitors, we see in 11/18 the silent and gradual change in her appearance, and her ways of relating to the camera, to her mother and to the world.
Santiago Mostyn’s All Most Heaven uses photography as a journal of when he fell in with a group in the New York underground scene out of discussions at their shared houses and dumpster dinners, they developed an idea to build rafts and navigate them down the Mississippi. The documentation of these trips is an intimate, intense celebration of those nomadic relationships.
Cornwall-based Naomi Frears has created a new work for Many Beautiful Things confessing the incidents and thoughts that mortified her with shame and embarrassment as a teenager, but as time passes, have faded to mild amusement.
A Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange exhibition