The RYDER is pleased to present “Hold Up,” the gallery’s second solo presentation of work by British artist William Mackrell. Throughout the exhibition, there is a sense of endurance, where objects, sound, and body shift precariously between collapse and rebirth. All of the works in “Hold Up” embody a kind of vulnerability, as they try to maintain their existence under the continuous threat of their own absence.
Each day at dawn, thousands of Western newspapers, art, and fashion magazines arrive at distribution warehouses in the United Arab Emirates. Before any material can be dispersed to bookstores and newsagents, a team of workers at these warehouses must scan the literature for nudity or supposed lewd images; anything deemed indecent is quickly censored out by hand using a thick black marker pen. With Cover Up (stripper with bare breasts) 2016—the artist’s first in this new series of work—Mackrell both highlights and preserves the imprint of the censorship mark by painstakingly scratching out the remainder of the magazine page’s surface with a scalpel blade. This delicate cutting away of this reproduction of a Diane Arbus photograph conceals the original image while simultaneously elevating the gestural shape of the marker scrawl.
Mackrell continues his exploration of the body as filtered through cultural and technological perspectives in the live work Interruption (solo). A performer lies upon a transparent shelf containing a faulty fluorescent light tube that flickers and hums sporadically. Though the bulb struggles to remain lit, it is ultimately trapped in its obsolescence, headed to its impending and inevitable death. In turn, the performer lying above the strained bulb experiences the bulb’s breaking rhythm through the vibrations in the shelf, and attempts to ingest and translate what moves through his or her diaphragm via subtle vocal sounds and exhalations.
Convulsive Repulse, the sculptural installation spanning the gallery’s rear wall, is similarly comprised of defective fluorescent lights, with electric cables hanging limply and dangling down to the floor. Though it initially appears to be dead or without power, the work is wired with a sensor that suddenly responds to close movement, upon which it aggressively sputters light and sound. The result is an imposing installation that at once induces a sense of unease—and perhaps, danger—in the affected audience. Moreover, the colour of the lights in Convulsive Repulse are intentionally arranged so as to recall the distinct cross of the English flag, thus pointing to the current tension and anxiety permeating everyday life in the UK, as well as the rest of Europe and the US.
In the exhibition’s eponymous work, Hold Up, a record player sits on the floor, seemingly silent despite its spinning disc. The sound is separated from the player, projected into an adjacent room and heard ever so slightly through a small hole in the wall. An assortment of classical, pop and dance ‘hold music’ plays on continuous loop, which Mackrell recorded onto his phone whilst waiting to be connected to various customer service helplines. The work suspends the audience in this temporal non-space, waiting for something to happen.
28 April - 27 May 2017
Wednesday - Saturday, 12 - 6pm
Performance runs every Saturday 2-6pm