A Review of A__ is A__ curated by Antonia Marsh at Golborne Gallery
If you’re a hopeless romantic like me, then you’ll know too well the melancholic pangs that come with the affliction of nostalgia. Although the term often implies rose-hued daydreams of the past, in truth nostalgia is an ugly little beast, and thanks to Instagram we can succumb to regular bouts of it whenever we please.
The social media giant may have also altered the meaning of nostalgia; the wistful longing traditionally reserved for blissful memories of times gone by, is now readily available for memories of only a few hours ago. This obsessive preservation of life is unique to our generation, and the photo-album-come-diary that is Instagram allows us to consciously process emotions of passing moments in real time with every post. Behold the most self-aware generation ever to have lived.
Young curator Antonia Marsh’s group show A _______ is A ______ currently on show at Golborne Gallery presents a seductive dystopian vision of everyday life. Although on the surface the small gallery may appear to be a complacent collection of works revelling in the mundane, there is a distinct punk spirit to be felt and a tangible yearning for something better than that which is. Tristan Pigott’s masterful oil paintings show beautiful flowers either stooping under the weight of an unctuous ejaculation, or littered with empty crisp packets. Half-eaten meals and slow burning cigarettes are voyeuristically photographed from above by Matilde Soes Rasmussen, who appeals to our Hollywood-fuelled longing for late night meals at motorway diners. Meanwhile an enormous photograph of a discarded junk-food boat crawling with snails lines the back wall, inciting reactions of both cuteness and disgust.
This underlying nod to Thelma and Louise inspired road trips is present throughout the show, a timeless and effective symbol of wanderlust and disillusionment. James Concannon’s readymade tattered suitcase sits alone on the floor, wearing labels that read ‘youth’ and ‘plague’. Antonia informs me that it hasn’t been opened in 7 years, and that the artist himself is unsure of its contents. It is a fine example of the power of the readymade; it’s validity ensured by the real memories captured inside. Matt McCormick’s painting of a vast empty motorway sign stares back at us blankly, offering no resolution to our hopes. The tall baby blue sky in the background once again conjuring images of the open Californian road leading to empty diners and run down gas stations.
But there is hope! Offered by the quiet star of the show who is also the only sculptor – Kate Falcone, whose work sits quietly on a plinth in the corner basking in pink girlish glory. In a room otherwise filled with prints, paintings and ready-mades, Falcone’s playful use of materials stands out - a giant plaster pearl overbearingly sits inside a natural shell, sprinkled with lavender. Childish lettered beads and patchwork adorn a stuffed fabric flower that delicately hangs midair above her collection of tiny toy like objects. Upon interviewing Falcone, she tells me that the ensemble has been treated with Reiki, a holistic Japanese energy healing practice that harmonizes energy imbalances throughout the body.
Falcone is not the only one attempting to offer solace to the viewer, and Rebecca Storm’s photograph of a shiny pink cowboy hat brings some much welcome colour to the ensemble. However, appearing more trailer park than glamourous accessory, the hat possesses the same melancholic associations as the other symbols of consumerist society on display, which are all presented with a tangible sense of blame. Even everyone’s favourite gummy bear brand is not enough to lift the mood. New York based artist Carly Mark’s painting of a ‘Haribo Gold Bears’ packet further blurs the boundary between precious and worthless, and the joyful expression of the bear himself highlights the naivety of memories that have always made up tuck boxes, attics and grandmother’s basements.
A___ is A___ effortlessly captures the timeless notion of youth’s disillusionment and is a triumph of foraging for symbols of a jaded youth. A showcase of adolescent sensitivities reflecting upon the transience of life, the artists have gracefully mapped our path of destruction. A beautiful bouquet tainted by our bodily fluids, a hastily consumed dinner and a half-smoked cigarette are just some of the images that make up this candid gathering of discarded memories. Very little in life could be more romantic. I liked it.
Written by Hedy Mowinckel, a Contributor to Arteviste.