Things slightly out of control.

Another sharply intelligent play by Caryl Churchill, Escaped Alone bats us back and forth from cosy garden chatter to the heart a dystopian future world of civic anarchy.  The scenarios the character Cassandra paints of a poisoned world run by the media where the obese slice off their own bodies for food and fashion choices revolve around which colour gas mask to choose appear just the other side of a thin membrane. Great review of the play here. As Cassandra stepped from bright sunshine into dark void to deliver her visions of spiralling societal collapse one of which included people trapped in tunnels underground resorting to cannibalism and giving birth to blind children I wondered how I will react to going down the deepest mine in the UK to visit the science labs at Boulby. Our trip is planned for May.

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Linda Bassett as Cassandra in Escaped Alone  by Caryl Churchill

Shivering is usually a temporary condition triggered by cold, fear or excitement. Damir Očko looks at the involuntary actions of our body and the physicality of the flesh in which we must live. His videos show a man shaking with Parkinson’s disease desperately trying to write the word tranquillity; the muscle spasms of young healthy men freezing as they stand near naked in a frozen landscape; flesh scarred through burning to a rough meaty texture.

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Damir Ocko The Third Degree

We walk between fragmented mirrors glimpsing our broken selves.

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Damir Ocko installation at The Croatian Pavilion 2015

Tulipmania swept the world in the 17h Century. The passion for the perfect bloom inflated prices out of control and fortunes  were made and lost in the worlds first recorded financial crash. This was the subject of  Gordon Cheung’s Breaking Tulips  exhibition at  Alan Cristea. The most desired blooms with their striated petals were the result of a virus, unknown at the time which added to the speculative nature of trade in not knowing whether a bulb would go on to produce the requisite flower or not. He sets his tulips against the background of the financial papers and comments; “In the context of the Dutch Golden Age the Tulip Breaking virus is both a biological and mind virus where a distorted sense of economic value has taken hold in a herd mentality.”

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Conflating history in his new work we see Dutch 17th-century still life paintings cascade like sand though our fingers. In frozen apocalyptic moments the solid world disintegrates before our eyes.  The collision of Dutch Master and Kim Asendorf’s open source algorithm computer glitch program has created a new kind of sublime; that mix of fear and beauty seen in entropy. We fear losing our history and also fear the ever changing new world of pixels. We are witness to a transient state.

I thought Filip Markiewicz installation Paradiso Lussemburgo was a bit heavy handed, but then considering his topic – the violence of reality seen through greed and the injustice of world economics maybe it was OK to shout about it.

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Filip Marckiewicz Paradiso Luxemburgo

 

There was no missing his point that the world of finance is corrupt.  Money doesn’t go where it is needed most. The packed boat precariously hangs over a blood bath. Making a political point can be blunt. Mark Fromm’s packed boat of waving lucky cats set in a perpetual cycle of sailing to disaster is titled Lampedusa Good Luck!  Smiling fixedly and clad in shiny gold like the refugees gold survival blankets it is an unsettling analogy but it does open the question of how we see the thousands of migrants who risk their lives to escape terror in their homeland – left to the mercy of so many forces; the war, the sea, our generosity.

Nidhal Chamekh  makes considered connections between contemporary realities and the sprawling nature of human history. The Anti-Clock Project looks at the destruction of an urban monument in Tunis through the use of models of the city and drawings.

Tunis, like any city is a testament to the forces that built it and as Nidhal Chamekh reminds us through the construction and destruction of its architecture is witness to society and the political forces which govern it.

Consider two bullets colliding head on. Art Collective The Propeller Group were intrigued when they came across the remains of a bullet from the American Civil War in a museum which had apparently smashed head on with another bullet on the battlefield. They decided to apply this mythology to the guns used in the cold war era.  The work they made AK47 vs M16 captures the colliding bullets in an FBI clear ballistics gel block accompanied by a video of the collision.

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The Propeller Group Ak47 vs M16

 

By collapsing/colliding two pasts together they explore possibilities.

Possibilities always lie in the future.

 

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