February - July 2019
Just Talking, the second collections-based exhibition held at the gallery, was premised on the disparate, inter-referential and surprising correspondences in works held in the collection, including Eva Rothschild’s 2009 multimedia work, The Perimeter, that gave the building its title.
Many of the works on show explore issues around international experience and the shared spaces of travel, exploration, and geopolitics. On the Ground Floor, Taryn Simon’s archival inkjet print, Agreement to develop Park Hyatt St. Kitts under the St. Kitts & Nevis Citizenship by Investment Program. Dubai, United Arab Emirates, July 16, 2012 from her singular series Paperwork and the Will of Capital (2015) depicts a floral centrepiece that adorned a commercial-diplomatic agreement in which citizenship of a Caribbean island could be purchased in individual shares of $400,000 to invest in a luxury hotel. The ‘impossible bouquet’ of hydrangeas, insofar as these flowers bloom in different seasons and different locations, is at once a nature study and a reference to the history of the still life – all serving as a metaphor for the visual language of power and the absurdities of global commerce. ‘These flowers sat between powerful men as they signed agreements designed to influence the fate of the world’, Simon said of the project, and this print by the entrance spoke to the more corrupt or suspect ways in which connections are made and consolidated on the edges of international agreements. Installed opposite the print in the Ground Floor gallery is RIG: Untitled by Phyllida Barlow (2011), a stack of wooden chairs arranged on a triangular stage, which observes the floral arrangement and the signing of the treaty from a stage.
Upstairs, on the First Floor, more startling correspondences link dissimilar artworks, including Martin Creed’s Work No. 379 LOVE (2004) in bright yellow neon which, when viewed from the right angle, reflects onto Wilhelm Sasnal’s oil on canvas Christopher Columbus II (2014). A fine example of Creed’s practice of illuminated letterings for one of the most profound yet repeated abstract nouns in the English language, LOVE is lit up as though powered by the battery-like structures and vivid acrylics of Peter Halley’s adjacent Triple Threat (2018). Halley’s painting refigures cell connections and conduits that zero in on parts of a whole network of operations. Sasnal’s portrait, on the other hand, represents a contested and controversial explorer who ‘connected’ the world through navigation on his four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean between 1492 and 1504. Other pieces that deal with the theme of displacement in materially dramatic transformations include a work from Raphael Hefti’s Substraction as Addition series (2012), a luxar-coated museum glass unit that radically alters our reflection in space through a wash of purple alchemy.
This room also features a section of Scenes From Western Culture: Dinner (Jason Moran and Alicia Hall Moran) by Icelandic video artist Ragnar Kjartansson (2015), one of the most compelling critics of the visual language of Western society. This series of vignettes explore our obsession with social class and its affective norms and behaviours, with theatrical performances, and indolent pleasures. This particular scene is a compelling example of these themes, as a couple dine together and are served while making idle – yet uproariously funny – conversation.
Laure Prouvost’s multimedia installation Grandma’s Dream (2014) is installed in the Lower Ground Floor gallery. Narrated by the artist, Grandma’s Dream was devised as a companion piece to Wantee, the artist’s Turner Prize winning film exhibition. This work is concerned with the legacies of grandparental figures who appear simultaneously as fictional and yet profoundly real, and features the disembodied spectre of ‘The Artist’, a regular presence in Prouvost’s experimental films, sculptures and monologues.
List of featured artists:
Phyllida Barlow CBE