This feature is accompanied with images by Francesco Cuttitta, who is currently undertaking a photography placement exploring contemporary art and performance in Manchester.
Text by Richard Hughes
Looking at the Reflection of Reality is the second exhibition displaying the works of seven Artists who are part of the Mark Devereux Projects associates scheme, a career development programme seeking to provide ‘bespoke guidance, information and opportunities’. Mark Devereux Projects is located at Federation House in Manchester inhabiting the converted fourth floor gallery. Walking around the space the viewer cannot help but notice the seeming emptiness of the show, but there are works hidden that take unexpected forms. The quest to explain the true nature of reality is a great human detective story, and this exhibition raises the question of whether art can enlighten our perception.
There are voices, personal thoughts playing on top of your footsteps that distort the natural flow and progression of the eyes to large scale watercolors, and distorted layered scenes on the far side of the gallery. Throughout the show you are accompanied by a work that explores responses to the physical through sculpture in an ironic and ephemeral manner. Joe Hancock’s ‘Conversation with a future sculpture’ is a work that allows the viewer a brief insight into the inner dialogue of the Artist, exploring their obsessions and perverse nature, the questions we ask of our physical surroundings and how we desire to manipulate our reality. Why the work has to be in the ceiling is unclear but it does create an unusual physical dynamic within the show. ‘Cataphote: Askew’ is a contextually subtle work that acts to deceive the viewer; twelve additional columns have been playfully arranged within the gallery, altering the way in which we navigate the space and questioning our familiarity with the spaces we inhabit.
The aforementioned large watercolors look physically ripped straight out of a sketchbook, and the most interesting aspects of Rob Davies works are the scale. On the far side of the void are Mary Wintour’s imagined locations, constructed with paint and collage. With these works Wintour invites us into a space with a familiarity of form and object, however they also strongly evoke shifting space, departing from the real and familiar. The work is eloquently constructed, evoking the experience of time and memory.
The star of the show is London-based Artist, Laura Napier. Entering Napier’s fictional reality is like entering the life you do not want to live, but you have to. Something that you are going to end up with, the boring life of work, followed by pensions and retirement. Napier seems to be interested in the roles we play in life, or the roles we invent for ourselves, evoking the question of how multiple possibilities become one reality. ‘Heintzman Solicitors, Erlang House Directory’ is a fictional construction, whereby the artist turned her studio into a solicitors office and held, for herself, a retirement party. Napier questions our interpretations of the world that we have constructed for ourselves, reiterating the existentialist view that the world has no meaning unless we give it meaning.
The vastness and enormity of the theme of ‘reality’ is represented in the physicality of the exhibition; there is an abundance of space, very little sculpture and maybe a deliberate confusion in the construction of the show. There are some interesting works that certainly encourage the viewer to question what ‘this’ is and what ‘it’ is for.
Francesco Cuttitta is a photography student in Graphic Design from the Accademia di Belle Arti, Palermo, Sicily.
Published 12.12.2014 by Lauren Velvick