ROWING, Unit F, 449 Holloway Road, London N7 6LJ

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Francesco Pedraglio: ‘Frank!’ (Part 2)
Rowing, London
1 December 2012 - 9 February 2013
Review by Tom Snow

For the second half of Francesco Pedraglio’s exhibition ‘Frank!’ at Rowing on Holloway Road, eight additional artists are invited to participate directly or indirectly in the ongoing narrativization of the space and artworks that fill it. At invitation, Nina Beier, Alex Cecchetti, Paul Becker, Chosil Kil, David Raymond Conroy, Marie Lund, Simon Dybbroe Møller and Robert Frank have all contributed various ideas or objects to the installation. Beginning on the 11th of January with a second evening performance on the 16th, something, or some things, have changed about Frank!

Just after 8pm on the 16th, Pedraglio announced to an audience squeezed tightly inside the modest gallery space that he had ‘very shiny shoes’. The reason for this - the audience was told - was because the shoes were brand new. This was only the second time he had worn them. To note the shininess of the shoes was to prompt an anecdote outlining the reason and intention of his purchase. During the Christmas period Pedraglio and friends had driven from Milan to Sarajevo non-stop for fourteen-hours. Shortly after arriving in the Bosnian capital, the artist’s shoes were ruined due to a combination of wintery conditions and lack of maintenance on his part. The reason the artist had not maintained his shoes very well was because the majority of his time is spent devising scripts, writing funding proposals and making artworks for exhibitions - consequently never finding enough time to carry out domestic tasks. His solution (at the suggestion of Alex Cecchetti): to spend the performance time polishing his shoes.

At this point two of the performers, Nat Carey and Charlotte Young, began to read from scripts courtesy of collaborating artist Paul Becker, apparently discussing the nuances and semantic complications of storytelling. At various moments Pedraglio would re-join the discussion, attempting to explain meanings and scenarios related to certain words. During these short speeches, words seemed to be treated as objects, and objects treated as words. ‘It doesn’t think at all, but without us to think about it, what then’’

Shortly before the introduction of a new anecdote, this time recounting a trip to Brussels, Pedraglio unrolled the hidden half of a carpet that had rested on the gallery floor since the opening of the show. Inside he found three new scripts inserted by Chosil Kil, each featuring the letter ‘O’. For a good few minutes each performer attempted to vocalise their ‘O’ in what turned out to be drastically out of tune choral singing.

Pedraglio seems to be interested in the deconstruction of narrative structures both in relation to storytelling as a performative act, and the capacity to engage with reality through a convergence with the fictional. In taking up the disjunctions of constructed meaning and perception of objects, the viewer of the exhibition, or attendant of the performance, is made to reflect upon the inconsistencies of conventional linear narratives.

Several new objects have been added to the space; others have changed form. For example ‘Witold’s rope,’ a plaster cast teapot was accidently broken during the event and is now renamed ‘Witold’s rope (in retrospect you will find this beautiful)’. As an installation, the atmosphere continues to feel very much like the aftermath of a Brechtian performance or a domestic crime scene. An ironing board, granite slab and new photographic collage installed on the wall have also been added to the mismatch of miscellaneous objects that fill the gallery. If something has changed about Frank! it is not necessarily an extension of the initial exhibition form. Rather, additional objects seem to elaborate the situation previously presented, as though new revelations have come to fruition causing the existing narrative to fall into further forensic disarray.

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