REHEARSING THE REAL
Larry Achiampong, Hitesh Ambasna, Erola Arcalís, Emma Bäcklund, Thom Bridge, Ramona Güntert, Sarah Howe, Steff Jamieson, Joshua Leon, Sarah Pickering
Rehearsing the Real presents a collection of contemporary artworks that seek to unravel and rewind across media including photography, film, performance and text. These acts of unfolding will come in the form of undoing narratives, histories and visual languages. A central element of the exhibition is a live collaborative work that will manifest throughout the duration of the exhibition and will bring together artists Arcalís, Bäcklund, Güntert, Jamieson and Leon within one creative space.
Curated by Tom Lovelace
Peckham 24, Copeland Park, Peckham, London
17 - 19 May 2019
Live Collaborative Essay #2: The Temporal Space
Emma Bäcklund, Joshua Leon, Steff Jamieson, Ramona Ramona Güntert, Erola Arcalís
Rehearsing the Real focuses on contemporary practices that engage the strategies of undoing. One of the boldest acts of undoing in recent art history belongs to Robert Rauschenberg. With Erased de Kooning Drawing (1953) Rauschenberg created an artwork by physically erasing another artist’s work, that of Willem de Kooning. Rauschenberg's gesture of unmaking has been variously interpreted as an act of iconoclasm, provocation, a tribute and a gesture of creative self-assertion. It is also an act of collaboration, with de Kooning above all, but also with Jasper Johns, who devised the title and a presentation scheme that completed the work. Rauschenberg's encounter with John Cage at the Black Mountain College played a crucial role in fomenting his reflection on strategies of undoing and non-representation, leading to collaborative projects with Cage, Merce Cunningham and Trisha Brown. It seems pertinent to highlight this aspect of the work given that curatorial conceit for Rehearsing the Real involves a central element based on a live collaborative event involving artists participating in the exhibition.
But what is left once the work is undone? Distinctions between different media seem no longer certain. Erased de Kooning Drawing can be described as a drawing, a performance, a record of its own creation. Perhaps even more importantly, the gesture of undoing places particular demands on the viewer. Historically and conceptually, Erased de Kooning Drawing belongs together with Rauschenberg’s White Paintings (1951), a series of blank monochromes whose ‘plastic fullness of nothing’ inspired, in turn, Cage’s 4’33”, known as the ‘silent score’ (1952). Erasure, silence, nothing confronts the viewer. And this, I think, changes the way we engage with the artwork: scrutiny gives way to contemplation; the focus relaxes; time flows more slowly. White Paintings have been notoriously described by Cage as ‘airports for the lights, shadows and particles.’ What he meant by this is that we are invited to take time to inspect the mute surfaces of the paintings for subtle reflections of activity in their surroundings. Blank spaces created by the works discussed here invite projections of visualizations. In a similar manner, the act of undoing creates space, which can now be filled with new gestures and interpretations.
About the Artists
Larry Achiampong's solo and collaborative projects employ imagery, aural and visual archives, live performance and sound to explore ideas surrounding class, cross-cultural and post-digital identity. With works that examine his communal and personal heritage – in particular, the intersection between pop culture and the postcolonial position, Achiampong crate-digs the vaults of history. These investigations examine constructions of ‘the self’ by splicing the audible and visual materials of personal and interpersonal archives, offering multiple perspectives that reveal entrenched socio-political contradictions in contemporary society.
Hitesh Ambasna is an artist and lecturer based in Bournemouth, Dorset. His research interests are wide ranging and over the years have encompassed themes as diverse as Empire and Postcolonial studies, dislocation/migration and the contemporary landscape in the context of art practice. Informed by the history of art, photography and contemporary culture, much of his ideas explore photography as language; focusing on the photographic object. The recent work is more intuitive and oscillates between the document and the constructed photograph. Working in the studio or location, his approach to photography is with a similar discipline to drawing and sculpture, that of making photographs as opposed to taking photographs. The recent work is a departure from earlier political themes and a return to more experimental imagery.
Erola Arcalís uses poetic text and the lyricism of the black and white photographic image to create fictional narratives. Her practice combines the abstraction of the natural landscape and makeshift objects still lifes. Arcalís work revolves around mythology, personal experience, dream and fiction. Arcalís published The Yaw of Callisto (2016) in collaboration with Tom Hatton and Gazing and Gazing Still (2017). Arcalís recently staged A Corner with Erola Arcalís at A Corner With, London in 2018.
Emma Bäcklund is a Swedish multi-disciplinary artist based in Berlin and London. Working with photography, performance, sculpture and writing she explores the body, its boundaries and consequences of its environment. She investigates social systems, power relations and cognitive impact on the physical body. While questioning preexisting structures, habit and gesture she strives to invent unexplored patterns of form, movement and thinking processes. The physical relationship is essential in her process of making and the photograph as a performative document explore elements of gesture. There are slippages between image, object and subject.
Thom Bridge’s photographic practice explores the languages, uses and formats of photography as a technology within the arts, culture and the everyday. He closely scrutinises the mechanics and multiplicities inherent in and inherited by photography. These explorations manifest through the activities and display of print-making, sculpture and installation. Recent projects and key areas of research include the on-going collaboration T. Bridge, where the artist collaborates with his identical twin Theo in an attempt to challenge the twin as a photographic trope. Further, the recent learning of his mother’s tongue Swedish has become a site to extend his work.
Ramona Güntert, born 1989, is a German artist based in London who graduated in Photography from the Royal College of Art in 2017. She is interested in the relationship between images, bodies, materials and their existence in nature. For her, photography is a physical experience and the everyday is transformed through the medium into something imaginative. Her works challenge the medium of photography and its existence as prints. Güntert creates spaces with images and layers of different materials. Taking fragments from nature and connecting them in new ways, building a language that the artist calls her own taxidermy.
Sarah Howe is a UK based artist whose installations situate still and moving image within sculptural space. Her work stands in the crossing between a material and psychological landscape, in a reach to illustrate heightened inner states.
Steff Jamieson utilises the mediums ability to produce, with the process of making central to her practice. By combining the fold as a methodology alongside the harnessing and controlling of light, exposure and photographic chemistry she explores the sculptural qualities of the print. Stripping photography back to its fundamental properties Jamieson’s practice brings to the fore the agency of light as a form of inscription and pattern making.
Joshua Leon’s practice combines poetic writing, performance, sculptural objects and exhibition making and is grounded in exploring concepts of staged poetics, sociality, and questions of authenticity and heritage. In doing so he makes continuous explorations and research surrounding the concept of translating the untranslatable.
Sarah Pickering is a British visual artist who works with photography and whose work deals with themes of falsity and deception. Pickering (UK, b.1972) uses the process of photographic image making as a way of staging, observing, performing, and facilitating in order to examine and explore mediated versions of reality and work beyond its confines. Central to her work is an intense and repeated scrutiny of the issues raised by such subjects as fakes, tests, hierarchy, science-fiction, explosions, photography, and gunfire. Pickering’s photography examines the frequent gulf between documentation and that which is documented - abstraction and representation.
The exhibition is generously supported by Spectrum Photographic, Jack Carvosso Studio and Metro Imaging
Opening Times: Friday 17th May, 18.00 - 01.00
Saturday 18th May, 12.00 - 18.00
Sunday 19th May, 1200. 18.00