May 17, 2009

Studio visit

The Bury Gallery show following "Agency of Words" (Text Festival) has a working title of "Not At This Address". The initial impetus for this was the observation that there are some very interesting artists working in Manchester (but with clearly international locus and impacts), who have not been properly presented in the city, because of the Manchester's curatorial weaknesses, previously touched on here. It is of course a similar situation with the poetry scene - internationally significant poets disconnected from the local structures. (A case in point, the other day, I bumped into Michael Schmidt, who seemed much more interested in his just-bought bags of summer berries and fuzzing over Barney than he was that Ron Silliman had been in town. And he didn't mention the Text Festival at all!).

So in preparation for the next exhibition, I visited 3 artists at Rogue Studios last week, : Pat Flynn (picture), Andrew McDonald and Magnus Quaife - all of whom will be in show. I don't know whether they would agree but while each artist had a very distinctive voice, I sensed a single commonality in their individual questioning of the divergent boundary between reality and conceptual space. Coincidentally Pat and Andrew are both routed in sculpture but have gravitated toward digital practice: Pat Flynn (re)creates objects and environments in software generating images and sculptures eerily mathematically real but reflecting the uncanny valley of between consciousness and object. Andrew McDonald also resolves sculptural dimensionality by turning to the digital. Andrew's scratchily drawn remarkable Beckett landscapes and unspecified warehouse interiors around which a headless man called John endlessly circulates are at once both tragic and affirming. He also creates shocking lightening room-illuminated cinematic tableau.

In similar questioning of perception, expectation and reality, Magnus Quaife takes images and interrogates them directly on that ground. Primarily working in watercolour, Magnus has a series of rural idylls, some rough re-paintings historic landscapes, featuring the box cabinet of one of the first super-computers used to simulate the real world; or seeing images of May 1968, and finding instead images of quirky images of life of the period, which converted into faded graphics accumulatively create an unreal era of non-memory.

Other artists so far confirmed for the show are: Sarah Sanders, Brass Art, Jesse Ash, Maurice Carlin, Amy Pennington, Rachel Goodyear, Rachel Well, and Alison Erika Forde. There will also be a sound art event during the show. It was interesting talking to the 3 artists that none of them had visited Bury Art Gallery since its innovative programme began (and that's probably nearly a decade now!); just as they don't situate their practice in the local and therefore why should they, Bury positions itself in the international context; However, my thinking is that the curatorial practice assumes that important artistic debates are moved forward more significantly through the dialogue between artforms as well as within them - hence events like the Text Festival.
(Tomorrow: down to London for the Comtemporary Art Society reception at 11 Downing St.)

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