Joseph Buckley – One Sixth of a Series Of Elegies: V, ?? & XVII: Retcon! Retcon! Retcon!

Text by Rebecca Senior

The middle floor rooms of &Model gallery have been carpeted in a scrap book mix of cut-out colour. The flat geometric shapes of red, yellow and green in translucent film and foil are awkward; their edges rough and angular. Collectively, they make for a kaleidoscopic introduction to Joseph Buckley’s latest solo exhibition at this Leeds gallery.

These colourful floor scabs (which are offcuts from the artists’ previous work in vinyl) reunite in the whitewashed rooms to dictate the physical experience of the show. It is difficult to avoid covering the pools with footprint-negatives, especially in the street-facing room which also holds a video installation and a photograph of the artist hanging from the ceiling of the gallery by his right foot. On first encounter the pieces in the room seem disjointed, like selfish entities spread across the space. However, as the ghost chatter of artist discussion fills the space from the box TV the individual voices, dislocated pools of colour and inverted hanged-man merge into a mashed up mix of obscure reference. The looped video, which shows a group of artists discussing a work of Buckley’s (which is anonymous to the participants and viewers of the work) was filmed in the space, you can see the 1911 date on the grey Pearl Chambers building that faces the gallery out of the window. The hanged-man is suspended from the third floor of the gallery, you recognise the squared sash window from the staircase and the distinct voices from the video become as distinct as the colours on the floor. In the adjoining room the only other work is a peculiar black painting of a domestic interior. It appears like a negative on crackle board and provides a startling counterpart to the angular rainbow shapes on the floor. It isn’t a depiction of the gallery space, but is composed of similar elements-stairs, doorways, wooden floorboards.

When entering the show you encounter the objects and rooms in turn, as if their order was something other than a consequence of their curation. It is difficult to explain or attempt to understand a finite concept behind the exhibition, and that is because the difficulty of the show is also its success. The lack of explanatory material (or its deliberate obscurity) results in cyclic narratives of space, bodies and death which are probably little more than creations of my imagination (a ‘RETCON’ is the alteration of a back story narrative by a later author). To experience colour and space prompted by nuances of bodily displacement and distorted perspective in a small mid-floor show is an interesting experience, and it is difficult to leave behind the self-portrait hanged-man, struggling and voiceless surrounded by pools of sticky colour.

 Joseph Buckley – One Sixth of a Series Of Elegies: V, ?? & XVII: Retcon! Retcon! Retcon! is on display at &Model Gallery, Leeds until 28 September 2013.

Rebecca Senior is a writer based in Leeds, and a Phd candidate in History of Art at The University of York.

Published 21.09.2013 by Lauren Velvick in Reviews

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