Text by Abi Mitchell
A gallery contained within a gallery, skirting the outside of one to find the entrance to the second, this show within a show, or shows within one show is definitely an exhibition that creates continuing depths of contemplation and discussion. Housed within blip blip blip at East Street Arts is The Institute of Jamais Vu, a gallery space originally based in Hackney, London, and Thunderdome is the congregation of all IJV’s past shows contained within a constructed equilibrium; twenty shows colliding to become one.
On first appearance we find a rushed container, with Wickes labels still stuck on the outside panels, and uneven joints and joins, not level and unfilled as if the whole space is mid explosion or implosion, creating a sense of urgency and energy within the stark frozen room.
The room within the constructed space is sparse due to its flat oppressive whiteness, yet complex in its content and powerful structural and multi-layered presence. Entering through an open doorway you step inside to become not just a passive observer to this new dimension, but a part of the structure as you move about within, ducking and weaving, the components criss-crossing around and above you.
This multi layered dimension where both shapes and narratives over-lap and intersect creates a charged environment, allowing for mixed emotions both within the installation and within you as the viewer. Calm and meditative with its white on white uniform yet full of history and strong visual stories and barriers, the installation creates a jumble of history within a storage room, almost like the ghost of a space, an impression of a memory in someone else’s recollections.
A simple yet very effective metaphor is provided through the works list hand out, an incomprehensible yet fitting tribute and clarification of the whole installation concept as each list overlays and distorts the previous. All at once showing the whole history yet without giving any one detail a distinction above the rest.
Outside the structure, pinned to the gallery wall are exhibition promotional flyers and works lists in chronological order that are the contents of the accompanying catalogue, individually attached to the wall facing the back of the structure. The history shown within these images allows you to begin to make sense of the shapes and layers within the re-constructed memorial to The Institute of Jamais Vu, works become recognizable amongst the apparent debris within the edifice. Showing these full colour captions away from the stark inside of the gallery within a gallery does not allow them to disturb the reflective process that the inner sanctum brings about.
Thunderdome seems to act as a shrine to as well as archive of the history of IJV, with such a reflective force emanating from its interior and silent surroundings, the printed material on the back wall almost acts as a memorial to the apparition of the gallery in its new temporary setting. Twenty shows fighting for supremacy seem to cancel each other out, creating a four dimensional physical commemoration of a multi layered and diverse history.
Abi Mitchell is a writer based in West Yorkshire.