9 February 2015

Partial Presence: Zabludowicz Collection

If not within the white cube form of gallery, contemporary art is aptly set within a building full of character and quirks. The Zabludowicz Collection is housed within an old and rather grand Methodist chapel which still retains intriguing features, built-in cabinets, imposing windows and an upper gallery. You can almost hear the presence of previous congregations and the echo of hymns. Artists surely bloody love showing work here. Everything you show is given added layers of context and juxtaposition - it's a curator's dream.


Oskar Dawicki

Oskar Dawicki's video is fascinatingly and gruesomely watchable and unwatchable, showing a bloody stupid precarious performance involving a noose and balloons. It's brilliant and awful. References spring to mind - Marina Abramovic and Uwe Laysiepen in their deadly equilibrium, Steve McQueen recreating Buster Keaton's house collapse.

Marina Abramovic and Uwe Rest energy 1980

Steve McQueen Deadpan 1997

Sam Taylor-Wood's floating self is obviously reminiscent, although we know she photoshops the wires.

Sam Taylor-Wood Escape Artist (Multicoloured) 2008

This sense of controlled precariousness survives in Dawicki's float of death. The spangley showbiz jacket and continual commentary add layers of irony. I remember reading about the scale of empathy being inverse to the level of psychopathy - if this piece does not set your nerves on edge you are probably a psychopath and nothing can be done for you.

Osckar Dawicki Hangman 2011


Laurel Nakadata

The real danger in Dawicki's work is contrasted with the faux suicide scenarios of Laurel Nakadata Where You'll Find Me 2005. The blood and exposure seems posed and exhibitionist in comparison: such unfair criticism is invited in a selected and curated show. I truly don't think artists should jeopardise themselves and that all the blood should be real, but the contrast exposes the core focus of authenticity vs acting. It's all always going to be a set-up, but Nakadata points towards the overblown gestures of expression in some of Bill Viola's work:

 Bill Viola The Quintet of The Astonished 2000

Laurel Nakadate Where You’ll Find Me 2005


Nicola Rae

Nicola Rae's projection installation is intriguing. I am more the sort of art viewer who likes to encounter art without knowing what it is beforehand, and read the title and blurb later, partly to feel my way through my own impressions, and partly to find out if I agree with the artists' or curator's own interpretation of their work - basically does it do what it says on the tin. How often I have been a little disappointed, baffled or disillusioned by a title!

Nicola Rae
Interplanetary Radio Frequencies: received from different planetary magnetospheres 2014-15

I'm drawn to work like this, open to interpretation, abstract but with science and theory behind it. It engages the mind and the imagination - phenomena-based work. I could spend a long time in a room with this piece.


Over thirty works make varying impact in this exhibition. True to form, I now read the curatorial introduction and see that it is all about how the presence of an artwork is in a perpetual state of flux. It's an interesting, well articulated concept, but a little of a surprise to me - it's not what I took away from the exhibition - to me it appeared to be various types of windows, some to an introverted or self-absorbed self, some to a parallel world, all like doors into virtual worlds leading off from a place in limbo. Curators can never truly account for the mood of the viewer when visiting.

Partial Presence
Zabbludowiz Collection
Prince of Wales Road London
29th January - 22nd February 2015


9th February 2015

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