Jerwood Encounters: Locate
11 August – 12 September 2010
Jerwood Space, 171 Union St, SE1 0LN
An exhibition of three artists’ responses to the concept of ‘site’ with artists Mel Brimfield, Sarah Pickering and Aura Satz.
Each artist was asked to propose ideas for new works that responded to the idea of ‘site’, be it a geographical location, institution, collection, a fictional or conceptual space. The selected artists then undertook a five month research project to develop their ideas.
Mel Brimfield produced a film that sought to reconstruct a fictional lost performance artwork. She worked extensively on a new script which was developed with a group of actors. A series of four characters provide contradictory eyewitness accounts of a live art event bringing into question whether it is possible to locate a transient performance after its completion.
Sarah Pickering created a new body of photographs in response to a museum exhibition on Fakes and Forgeries organised by the Art and Antiquities Unit of the Metropolitan Police. She accessed the Fakes and Forgeries archive at Scotland Yard allowing her to further research one of the most notorious art forgers in history, Sean Greenhalgh. The aim was to deepen her ongoing exploration of the photograph’s relationship to the real, and the notion of authenticity in the subject; is it possible to locate reality through photography?
Aura Satz explored the notion of how we locate sound. Working as artist-in-residence at the Ear Institute, UCL London, she developed a new intimate, immersive sound sculpture that created a physical and psychoacoustic sonic experience. A large brass horn, appears like a giant hearing trumpet suspended in the gallery space. Visitors were encouraged to place their head inside the sculpture which played a sound piece written and recorded by the artist and played on a multi channel soundtrack which outputs in a spiral sequence.
Jerwood Encounters provide emerging artists with new exhibition opportunities and the chance to explore issues and ideas across disciplines and art forms. For Locate each of the artists was awarded a £2000 commissioning fee to support them to develop their practice in new areas.
Image: Mel Brimfield, Four Characters in Search of a Performance (Installation view) 2010.
Photo: Paul Winch-Furness
Locate was activated by three artists’ responses to the concept of ‘site’, and evolved into an exhibition that explored representation of a subject and its subsequent authenticity and value. Mel Brimfield, Sarah Pickering and Aura Satz were selected to develop new work over a five month period resulting in an exhibition at Jerwood Space in August 2010.
Mel Brimfield’s complex practice takes the form of performance, film and mixed media. She researches the historiography of performance art which feeds into her work, and uses humour and storytelling to explore and skew our understanding of this area of practice. For Locate she developed a piece titled Four Characters in Search of a Performance and worked extensively on developing a new script for a group of four actors to produce a film-based installation that sought to reconstruct a fictional lost performance artwork. Each character, the Critic, the Gallerist, the Photographer and the Actress, give their account of an artist’s performance. The film references Luigi Pirandello’s play Six Characters in Search of An Author and as it unravels it becomes clear that the actor’s accounts are contradictory, leaving the viewer in doubt as to which one, if any, can provide a truthful account.
The piece creates a shadowy fictive performance sited somewhere in the collective memory of four unreliable witnesses who are clearly actors rehearsing and performing a script. The piece explores the territory between the real experience of live art and performance and how documentation, interpretation and language inform a viewer’s experience of an event after it has occurred, and brings into question whether it is possible to locate a transient performance after its completion.
Aura Satz works predominantly with film, performance, sculpture and sound. For Spiral Sound Coil she continued to work as artist in residence at the Ear Institute, UCL, London to further explore how we locate sound. She developed a new intimate, immersive sound sculpture that created a physical and psychoacoustic sonic experience. Like a giant hearing trumpet or an automaton ear, a large brass horn was suspended in the gallery and appeared to tune into an ethereal library of past sounds. Visitors were encouraged to place their head inside the sculpture. A multi-channel soundtrack outputs in a spiral sequence inside the horn, thus echoing the rotating technology of wax cylinder sound recording.
The narrative voiceover explored the idea of memory being like a wax cylinder, a ‘mystic writing-pad’ of sorts, a blank slate onto which memories leave their trace and personal history is recorded. The musical composition is a re-composition of selected recordings made as part of a commission at Beaconsfield by Satz, which included excerpts from the psychoacoustic illusion of a Shepard tone, a Theremin and voices by the barbershop quartet Hunky Dory. Spiral Sound Coil explored the ever-shifting site of sound, and offers a powerfully disorienting acoustic experience.
Sarah Pickering‘s photographs allow the viewer to experience institutional representations of the real world. For Locate she created a new body of photographs in response to a museum exhibition on fakes and forgeries organised by the Art and Antiquities Unit of the Metropolitan Police. She accessed the fakes and forgeries archive at Scotland Yard, which allowed her to further research one of the most notorious art forgers in history, Shaun Greenhalgh.
The exhibition installation took the form of a museum space consisting of a number of different photographic approaches. These included a staged image of one of Greenhalgh’s forgeries in a replica of his living room, photographs of a representation of Greenhalgh’s shed from the fakes and forgeries exhibition, and scanned images taken by Greenhalgh himself which he used as a tool to sell his forgeries on to galleries and museums worldwide. The installation also comprised books and catalogues that represented a Gauguin Faun forged by Greenhalgh, with art historical texts interpreting the work as if it were genuine. Props constructed by the BBC, which appeared in a documentary dramatisation of Greenhalgh’s story, were shown alongside a vintage salt print of the Amarna Princess, on loan from the V&A museum for the duration of the exhibition.
This installation explored the complex layers of representation within photography using the multi-layered representations of Greenhalgh’s forgeries as the subject. Thus raining issues about the value of the artist’s signature, the authenticity of a subject, the layering of stories and attribution, and the traces of forgeries as they become embedded into art history.
The works on display prompted the viewer to investigate and form an understanding of the complex representations presented to them in the exhibition to further explore how an artist and viewer situate a subject, an idea within the artist’s own work and within an exhibition context.
Locate formed part of the Jerwood Encounters series, and was the third in a series of experimental exhibitions curated by Sarah Williams which have supported collaborative and experimental new commissions within the Jerwood Visual Arts programme. Jerwood Encounters provide emerging artists and curators with new exhibition opportunities and the chance to explore issues and ideas across disciplines and art forms.
© Sarah Williams, 2010
Image: Installation view, Sarah Pickering, 2010. Courtesy the artist
More information about Locate.
Locate, Curated by Sarah Williams, 11 August – 12 September 2010. Mel Brimfield, Sarah Pickering, Aura Satz.