The exhibition Someone To Watch Over Me presents artists whose works encounter faith and the divine. Employing irony, satire and formal clarity, these artists see their environment as a culture of contradictions, traditions and quiet revolutions. In dealing with subjects such as religious faith and atheism, life cycles, and the relation of the individual to the State, the works are characterised by violent swings from the abstract and ethereal to the concrete and the gritty. There is a perennial youthfulness, a naive necessity to ask the big questions that we try to put aside after adolescence: Where do I belong? Who do I belong with? What does it mean to believe in something? What happens to us when we die? Who will watch over me?’
Slater Bradley captures tensions that lie between a sense of reality and artifice. His unnerving DVD projection titled “Female Gargoyle” shows real-life footage of a tattooed young woman sitting on the corner precipice of a tall building, one leg dangling precariously over the edge. In a close-up view she smokes a cigarette and then weeps whilst contemplating suicide. Bradley has been enclosed the woman and she remains perpetually adorning the corner precipice, a gothic creature of mythical proportions. The artist offers his audience a compelling image that traps and mesmerises without the relief of sentiment. Bradley thrives on visual tension and his critical detachment does not fail to disturb.
‘On an Operating Table’, by Mark Wallinger, projects the image of the light in an operating theatre onto the wall, shifting the viewer through 90º. As the light moves in and out of focus, suggesting a drift in and out of consciousness, different voices, alternately hesitant and confident, read aloud the letters 'I. N .T .H. E. B. E. G. I. N. N. I. N. G. W. A. S. T. H. E. W. O. R. D' Beneath an all-seeing divine eye, the opening words of the Gospel of St. John are heard, read as if from an optician's chart. Wallinger tackles questions through the use of mythical and spiritual iconography, opening doors into other worlds.
A strong element of political satire underlines Paul Carter’s practice. Our contemporary social situation renders an image of humanity in crisis - having lost its faith in systems of belief - it sacrifices itself readily to the ever-watchful eye of the State. ‘128 beats per minute’ is a breeze-block nuclear bunker built to U.S. Government standards and houses a moving coloured projection and a quadaphonic sound system reminiscent of a dance club.
A series of 300 paintings entitled “Colleagues” by Tom Molloy - portraits of RUC police officers killed during the course of ‘the troubles’ in Northern Ireland - succinctly transmit the past to the future by reconstruction of the original photographic image. Molloy's work is a transformative action detonating the ephemerality of life, the inescapable passage of time, the fear surrounding terrorism and the unacceptable certainty of death.
Claire Todd utilises several mediums in her work to explore the problem of alienation. In an illusory instant, the film ‘Lunan Bay’ captures the viewer. Todd synthesises an atmospheric coastal landscape into an allegory of mental escape.
Eva Rothschild’s sculptures open up portals to another level of reality - one of mystery, danger, and magic. By synthesizing 60’s idealism with renewed New Age spiritualism, the artist revaluates traditional ritual and cultural symbols and at the same time acknowledges the inexplicable and miraculous reality of the everyday.
An extreme presence of physicality permeates the work of Fanni Niemi Junkola. The notion of direct and deeply touching physicality is apparent in the video work ‘To Begin’ which focuses on dynamics of pain and compassion. This intimate work, shot entirely of close-ups of a woman’s face, conveys a psychological state of extreme physical effort and magnified discomfort.
Always there is the recognition that art, like so many other parts of life, is in itself a belief system, demanding the viewer to assume a position in relation to it. A positioning that is political, emotional or psychological; making the participants conscious of themselves and the process of constructing value and meaning in life.
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