Castlefield Gallery’s current show, entitled AND A 123 has been contextualised as a study into our relationship between everyday objects, routines and spectacles. Acting somewhat as a linchpin to these themes is Lisa Watts, whose video ‘Not a Decorator’ (2017) features objects such as garden trellises, tape measures and cotton wool balls all intertwining with one another. The work offers a deeper reflection into performance art’s place, as the scenarios presented to us on screen are also delivered as live performances every Saturday throughout the duration of the exhibition. Noticeably, the footage left on permanent display has had its human presence concealed and is set against a black background. The resulting aesthetic is reminiscent of The Magic Pencil, a segment of a 1990’s television series constructed to help children learn and write the alphabet. Watts guides us towards a comparable state of infantile captivation by crafting a sense of presence. This is elegantly achieved by implicating subtle edits that conjure a rhyme; exemplified perfectly when Watts strainfully spirals out an entire kitchen roll, sheet by sheet, before allowing it to topple in on itself.
A well-known presence at Castlefield Gallery having designed the gallery’s external shutters in 2013 with a work entitled ‘Shutters (Hewitt Street)’, Nina Chua returns with signature compositions that strip gesture back to its fundamentals. Chua’s offsite project features posters scattered around the city of Manchester reading ‘Shutters closing 6pm’ (2017). Chua can be interpreted as throwing the gallery’s closing up procedure into wider consideration, but due to the poster’s vague design it is onerous to fully appreciate it’s intentions. Treading similar terrain is Oliver Tirré, whose series ‘Practice Surface’ (2015) showcases the interdependent relationship between image and process. Laid flat, the paintings themselves exude very little due to their subdued appearance. Tirré’s works are all referenced with being made during a specific period though, and therefore toy with our awareness with time. Despite the faint affinities Chua and Tirré’s practices may have, they clearly express a dialogue surrounding monotonous phenomenalism.
Typifying further conventions around phenomenon is David Rickard’s work ‘C’ (2016). Rickard has arranged a number of LED advertising lights into a circle, and programmed them to flutter bright and dim. ‘C’ cultivates an alluring pulse that produces an enthralling experience. Nonetheless, it is difficult to comprehend due to its sheer scale and is challenging to see as anything other than a mural to technology itself. Poised, almost in opposition, is ‘Run In Run Out’ (2016-) by artist Noel Clueit. Comprised of two looped audio recordings ‘Run In Run Out’ features the opening and closing segments of various songs. It is easily missed, enigmatic, and highly frustrating. Its ambiguous arrangement tears into the monumental. We are left perplexed as nothing is given a comprehensible chance and any narrative and expressive elements are all but emancipated.
There is a frustration to AND A 123 as it disengages from our appetite for logic and sense. The feeling that something is lacking prevails. Viewing Maeve Rendle’s work ‘Either Or’ (2017), we watch two translators reiterating lines from Morton Feldman and Samuel Beckett’s libretto titled ‘Neither ’(1977). The work opposes an assumed cerebral nature and throws up a suitable point to sign off with. As the translators work through the text, marrying intellect with intuition, knowingly or unknowingly they throw up an in-between space. Pausing, as iterations and stipulations pass, the realisation that this show revolves around these very paucities dawns. Tedious as it may seem it is perhaps with this realisation that AND A 123 should be further explored and endured.
AND A 123, Castlefield Gallery, Manchester.
22 September – 5 November 2017.
Ashleigh Owen is an artist and writer based in Manchester