Saturday, 5 May 2012
I visit Elizabeth Price - Here
Friday's weather changed as I moved from upstairs to downstairs, to the extent that I changed my plan as I walked through the revolving doors.
Instead of left, along the river, I flâneured straight ahead and soon found myself in the gallery where one of the Turner candidates has a show.
It's Elizabeth Price's show called 'Here' and the entrance was completely dark, leading into various large rooms of shadowy figures.
Elizabeth's work is immersive large format video, mainly featuring objects, sharp soundtracks and an overlaid textual narrative.
I watched three - one about the car transporter that sank bearing its cargo of 2500 Volvo cars. Another was called 'Choir' and referenced the area of a church, the singing ensemble and the quire of paper. And third was a piece entitled 'User Group Disco', which described taxonomies for consumer artifacts, with often kitsch qualities.
I came in on Choir, which in its first sequences featured a percussive handclap as a soundscape accompanying fast cut images and slower messages. This worked well and introduced some of the secular and bawdy aspects of church carvings. There was a section describing the three dimensional geometry of church spaces, which also played to my disorientation in the dark space I'd entered. The piece later developed into curves and linked hand gestures, then via lo-fi re-filmed singing from the Shangri Las and then towards a major store fire that occurred in Manchester but where the same gestures could be seen.
Something that worked well was the way the very dark space was lit by the often dark high resolution images. A kind of HAL/Alien/Silent Running space freighter image flicked through my mind for two of the exhibits.
The final image of Choir was of burning furniture. As I left to enter another space I found myself testing the gallery boundary with outstretched hands in case I was crossing via a barrier of glass or netting.
The User Group Disco used a lot of 'Business PowerPoint talk' about core mechanisms, strategic imperatives and flows. Words we all know and can assemble into clever diagrams but still need to write down to remember the models. We were being talked to through the images and text, like a sort of machine communication. It talked in the 'We' and 'You' format. Another reflection of a HAL, maybe? I wondered who the 'We' was that was creating these messages. I mused whether the text should have been reversed so that we could actually be inside the head of the mechanism projecting to us - a sort of play on the 'Here', but maybe people would just think the projector was malfunctioning.
The accompanying visuals were moodily shot artifacts from a kind of 'Ideal Home Show' living supplement. Banana racks, egg whisks and other shiny shiny gadgets.
But we were also told that the museum holding these items still contained monsters.
Maybe my space freighter thoughts were right after all?