We live in a world where there is more and more information, and less and less meaning.
(Jean Baudrillard, Simulacra and Simulation, 1981)
Laura Bartlett Gallery is currently presenting Margo Wolowiec’s first solo show with the gallery. The exhibition features six new woven wall works and two video projections reflecting the artist’s ongoing study of image overload and information loss.
The exhibition’s title, ‘Summer Learning Loss’, derives from an exploration of lengthened study break periods and the effects of lost education during the summer months. On the gallery walls cling a series of image-transferred woven works, depicting popular holiday destinations, most notably those searched and fixated over on Google images. The faded translucency of the weavings, the fabric distorted by heat, make the chances of identifying these locations unappealing and impossible. The images are ambiguous and hypnotising.
Structure and surface are clearly crucial to Wolowiec. A variety of frame sizes hang next to each other like jigsaw pieces, brought together by hand-stitched marks made of squiggles and crosses. The choice of camera shot also differs with close-ups, details, long, medium and high angle shots. Certain parts of the imagery are repeated between the larger works on show, ‘Central III’ (2016), ‘South II’ (2016) and ‘North II’ (2016), sticking to a consistent theme of botany, forests and seascape destinations.
Two videos are located in the central phase of the exhibition, contrasting the popular digital photographic images of holiday destinations with two apparently homemade videos titled ‘Circular Ocean’ (2016) and ‘Circular Dunes’ (2016). The two videos pan from left to right, up and down, devoid of human life, showcasing a far less saturated, sweetened and warm image. A sense of realism prevails among desire, hope and anticipation here.
Meaning is or might be identified in the work’s location, rather than in the rendering of the location’s new appearance. Wolowiec points toward a defilement of romantic reality caused by the proliferation of online image databases. The hanging and positioning of the works recalls the actions of rapidly swiping through masses of online images without concern for the impact of consuming knowledge or information in this way.
Wolowiec’s critique of digital yearning and the processes and media used ask us to reconsider the ideal image and the ideal place. Her abstract approach to making work is tied up in the hopes and failures of those obsessed with seeking a fantastical existence outside of their everyday location. Her works acts as a reminder of the importance of perception within our media-saturated world, particularly as the accessibility and distribution of information and imagery builds toward its highest peak.