15.10.10 Dig Down in Time review by MurmurArt

MurmurArt Dialogue – Two reviews by Ausra Linkeviciute and Olivia Nairn

Read the original article here

read more about ‘Dig Down in Time’ here

Dialogue 1 – Ausra Linkeviciute

The archive might be the starting point for the seven artists presented in Dig Down in Time, but perhaps the strongest element which unites their work and overcomes the viewer is that of magic. Whether appropriating found imagery or creating an archive of their own, the artists forge new narratives moving from the real towards the metaphysical.

Susan Hiller has described her art as “investigations into the ‘unconscious’ of our culture” and this is exemplified by her work Dedicated to the Unknown Artists and the ensuing Addenda. The work stands as an acknowledgment of these uncredited artists as the anonymous postcards with views of the rough sea are recorded, classified and thus relocated into a new context. Similarly in her sound installation Moonlight Isha Bohling is also making visible that which is unknown by delving into an archive of personal images and family history.

Archival imagery is boldly deconstructed in the compositions of Jorge De La Garza. His series of photographic collages are reminiscent of surreal dreamscapes as he juxtaposes the incongruous, the natural and the formal. Larissa Nowicki’s work consists of woven book pages representing religious imagery. But it is not the ‘content’ of these pages that grips the viewer, but the aesthetic experience of tracing the beautiful patterns and projecting a whole multitude of possible meanings.

Susan MacWilliam’s video piece Some Ghosts uncovers the vast archive of its protagonist, a poltergeist investigator Dr William G Roll. Even though we follow him as he goes through his newspaper clippings, books, charts and experiment records, the film is not so much an exploration of the paranormal as it is a personal portrait of a character, a record of his life. Some ghosts is thus an archive in itself. This idea of a poltergeist could easily be transported to a nearby projection of Pippa Gatty’s Tiangong Rendezvous. In this video installation scientific imagery is turned into something playful, something mystical, like an apparition.

A self proclaimed Geographer-at-Large Eames Demetrios proposes a completely different take on the notion of archive – the archive he uses is a fictional one, his own creation. For those unfamiliar with his work, this installation of two wooden plaques marking a fictional historical site is powerful and confusing enough to make you start exploring. The exploration will lead to Demetrios’ alternative universe of Kcymaerxthaere – with its own people, stories and physical laws.

Most of the works in Dig Down in Time could be viewed as if existing in some sort of alternative universe. The forgotten or overlooked social artefacts are resurrected to a new life – that which is unsettling and above all magical.

Dialogue 2 – Olivia Nairn

Man&Eve is located in the former Lambeth Sea Cadets Drill Hall, an early 20th century building oozing with character and charm found at the end of a quaint street in Kennington, south London. A perfect place, therefore, for the setting of the gallery’s latest exhibition, Dig Down in Time, which explores the notion of the archive and the role of memory, records and other documentation in preserving our personal and social history. Featuring the work of seven artists, the exhibition is small yet uniquely intriguing: using the space outside the gallery, a rickety stairwell, as well as the drill hall itself, the seven very different pieces oddly managed to complement each other with some success.

On entering, the sound of Isha Bøhling’s The Infinite Line (2010), fills the room. A media piece where a single soprano voice sings aloud words projected onto a stopclock, Bøhling’s first offering to the exhibition was not immediately visible, but the words of the song formed a cryptic melody, to the tune of which I encountered the other pieces. Bøhling’s second piece, Moonlight (2009), again made use of music, this time as if recorded from a child’s wind-up music box, in conjunction with a strange photograph allegedly drawing on family history, although this was link was largely absent.

The beautiful La Vierge Reconsidered (2010) by Larissa Nowicki was far more outstanding. Nowicki has weaved together book pages, some imprinted with 12 carat gold, with no adhesive, and created a clever intertwining of printed information to form a completed new subject matter as a piece of art. Jorge De La Garza’s collages too, had found inspiration in images from second-hand books.

With a more concrete approach to the notion of archive, the video recording Some Ghosts (2009) by Susan MacWilliam showed the Danish American poltergeist investigator, Dr William G. Roll, narrating the audience through his journals, pictures and other material he had accumulated in a lifetime of research. Her Addenda to Dedicated to Unknown Artists (1976) featured picture postcards recording the rough weather of the English coasts, once again displaying MacWilliam’s direct interpretation: here we dig down in time with physical memory aides, such as diaries and photographs. Pippa Gatty’s Friendship (2010), a series of small oil paintings, and Tiangong Rendezvous (2010), a video installation, called upon the visual imagery of National Geographic reports, but were interpreted very differently to MacWilliam.

The gallery’s outside yard was the domain of Earnes Demetrios, ‘geographer-at-large’, who has created a parallel world named ‘Kcymaerxthaere’, explored here in his Bragansas, Aing-Tiotawka Series (2010). Two printed wooden plaques attached to the building claim to be marking the sites of various events occurred in this universe, and by giving a nonsense world an official record, Demetrios provided a very welcome humorous edge to this exhibition.