This immersive installation of sculpture, performance and moving image explores the fetishism of anthropological objects. The artist theatrically transforms the gallery space, conjuring up the constructs of a refashioned archaeological site or museum, which serves as a platform for live events and participatory experiences.
Strewn across the gallery, sculptural caricatured forms draw on absurd and implausible historical narratives: classical columns with arms; a monumental pinecone made of clay tongues; and a golden rhubarb atop an obelisk. The objects are hollow-forms with skins constructed of paper-mache or roughly smothered plaster; in the muted grey landscape, flecks of colour on them allude to a hidden energy.
Low-resolution moving images are projected amidst the sculptures, animating the installation. They are compiled from social media images, captured and disseminated by the participants of a performance workshop; a guided-tour devised by the artist and choreographer Joel O’Donoghue. Part obstacle course, part pantomime, the viewer is invited to experience this for themselves at one of the performances throughout the course of the exhibition.
The gallery will also host a collaborative project with four artists: Patrick Coyle, Natasha Rosling, Sarah Simmonds, Tamsin Snow. Each artist, invited by Candida Powell-Williams, has a particular relationship to collections or museums and will produce an editioned artwork in response to the previous artist’s work, creating a chain-like Exquisite Corpse. Playing on the idea of tourist merchandise, the works will be displayed within a museum “shop” in the gallery.
Powell-Williams’ installation is a pastiche of the work she produced whilst on a yearlong residency in Rome. The project combines her interest in tourists’ behavior such as rubbing statues and a catalogue of bizarre stories about these artifacts gathered from historians and archeologists. It seeks to capture the sense of spectacle found in exploring historical sites and their dramatization to contemporary visitors such as Audrey Hepburn’s Bocca della Verita, the frescoes from Villa of Livia at Palazzo Massimo, the whimsical atmosphere of the gardens of Bomarzo and the theatrical plaster cast museum in Rome’s University.
An artist book under the same title is published on the occasion of the exhibition. Fully illustrated, it contains an introductory essay by Historian Oren Margolis. The publication serves as an instruction manual for the exhibition and performances.