AboutA Group exhibition at Gallery North based on the 2008/9 Berwick Gymnasium fellowships of artists William Cobbing, Jason Minsky and Kim L. Pace.
The overwhelming expanse and powerful natural force of the North Sea provides both a kind of psychological landscape, and also offers a different physicality, that the three artists reference in their works for this exhibition. The sea hides and dissolves, aircraft as well as ships disappear, and the depths may hide the unknown and the monstrous. Although their practices are different, living in Berwick-upon-Tweed over the winter months enabled them to realise works which overlapped through their shared experiences.
In Paces In the Lap of the Cods, or Cryptozoology, which includes a series of photographs and drawings, half-human, half-fish like characters are found in the shallow waters of rock pools. These creatures are depicted in a state of flux, suspended mid-transition, divulging part figurative and fragmentary motifs. In the film Depth Wish, stop-motion animation is used to haunting and evocative effect. The bizarre and surreal underwater world conjured in this work presents the unknown quality of the sea, a primordial place of creation.
Mare Liberum, a film by Minsky, is as beguiling as it is absurd. With a soundtrack that is calming and strangely rhythmic, we are drawn further out to sea, where a man stands proudly and professionally carrying out his job, as an assistant referee on a tiny section of football pitch on top of a raft. Robinson Crusoe, Raft of Medusa, and the paintings of Caspar David Friedrich are all alluded to. An Englishmans Home is an absurd attempt to hold back the tide and protect a humble sand castle, using fifty full sandbags and a soldier on guard, which of course ends in failure.
The video Moon Walker charts Cobbings walk along the beach from Holy Island to Berwick. On closer inspection it appears as if he is walking into the footprints in the sand, rather than leaving them behind (due to the footage being filmed as walking backwards and then reversed). The video takes its cue from Robert Smithsons Passaic earthworks whereby all that was ruined returned to its original state.
But, who will know any of these artists have been here. After being in residence in Berwick for six months, it is implied that the artists want to cover their tracks, to cloud the certainty that they were ever there at all, echoing the temporal nature of their projects. There are no footprints left behind in the sand, a referee set adrift miles from dry land, and a mysterious underwater world might never be discovered.