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The good, the bath and the snuggly


The Snuggly
Level-7–Armageddon by Nicholas Lenker

After my First Friday effort to take photos in the dark of Nick Lenker’s snuggly seating arrangements in use at Nexus, I had to go back for a better view, and there I found Lenker himself cross-legged on the floor, restitching and rearranging his floor-pillow critters. He seemed surprised that they took such a beating (for more images of the pillows, go here).

A sure sign of success–Lenker’s floor pillows in use

If you ask me, that was a sure sign of success. People loved them, wrapped themselves in the long tendrils, hugged them, and lounged against them. Perfect.

Lenker’s Bird Flu Bean Bag

The seating was an adjunct to All For Show, a survey of young British video, on exhibit there, also worth my revisit. While I liked some better than others and could a skipped a couple, I overall enjoyed myself. The most frequent theme here seems to be criticism or mockery of British culture. There’s mockery of consumerism, of the work place, of the British gardening obsession, of pop lyrics and stereotypes. But the show travels beyond the borders of the British Isles, literally and also figuratively.

the video stations at Nexus

I best liked the way the viewing stations allowed me to pick and choose how long I stayed with a video. The videos in the projection room, where Lenker’s lounge lizards covered the floor, were shown serially, which meant to reach my favorites, I had to sit through the ones I didn’t like.

The Good

Dear Linda Harrison by The Miller and McAfee Press

Amongst my faves: Out at the video stations, I loved “Dear Linda Harrison,” from The Miller and McAfee Press, which is a theatrical take on invasive consumer surveys. The consumer, in this case, invades the physical space of the survey taker, Linda Harrison, by spitting out his inane answers to the inane questions just a few inches from her ear. Harrison is impassive throughout.

There’s a willingness to be irritating in a number of these videos. Dear Linda Harrison is joined in this by Filing, Angela Hicks’ deliberately stupefying film of an office worker filing her nails as the filings pile up on a black blotter. And then there’s the pun.

The Bath

Harold Offeh obeying his own advice to nurture yourself in 4 Ways to Feel Amazing

I’m not sure why I liked Harold Offeh’s 4 Ways to Feel Amazing, except that it was rather funny, with its silly advice–eg. “Nurture yourself…I deserve love and care”–delivered in an ultra-earnest manner. Quite British. I liked the way the video looked and I also liked that he had a tub toy when he was in the bath.

Trilogy: Borderline, by Beagles and Ramsay

Apparently bath-tubbiness is next to godliness in British culture. A darned silly trilogy of videos in the projection room by Beagles and Ramsay includes a seedy man in the tub reciting the romantic lyrics of Madonna’s Borderline to another seedy man seated next to him on the can. The comedy and tone are straight out of British music hall culture.

Offshoot, by Anna Boggan

In Anna Boggan’s Offshoot, also in the projection room, a small shrub that’s looks suspiciously like an invading exotic species darts around topiary and other well-maintained gardens. The errant shrub behaves like the fleeting targets in video games. Now you see it. Now you don’t. I was in a perpetual state of anticipation.

I’m not sure why Jasper Joseph Lester’s Shaft amused me, but it did. Shot inside elevators, the opening and shutting doors flashing on sales floors, it offered a slice of elevator life that kept me engaged. I especially liked the voice overs–“Third floor, doors opening, going down”–and the conversations of some shoppers. They were reminders of just how weird our daily reality is.

Stasis, by Diane Timmins

Diane Timmins’ “Stasis” shows an inert naked body on a slab that suddenly has to breathe, the act and the movement a surprise. As a visual it was rather morgue-ish, and reminded me of Ron Mueck’s portrait of his dead father–shocking in its nakedness and unsparing detail.

Others in the exhibit whose work I saw were Marion Coutts, Adrian Lee, Sophie Brown, Douglas Fishbone, Elizabeth McAlpine, Alex Baker, Juneau Projects, Elly Clarke and Alexander Costello. I didn’t see the work by Sarah Collins, Paul Masters or Sarah Turner. I’m not sure why.