Leaving the tube station, I wander through an estate towards Matt’s Gallery, and pause by the entrance to put the brightly coloured posters adorning the walls on my Instagram. In the gallery, I’m handed some accompanying texts and take a ticket from a stub machine on the wall. With little space there’s nowhere else to go but into a large inflatable bouncy castle, so I step inside.
‘Trip To Eclipse’ is a new installation by Patrick Goddard, exhibited at Matt’s Gallery following his participation in the Blackrock Residency in 2016, a collaboration between the gallery and the Lydney Park Estate. The title is a reference to a 1990s clothing label, which was more popular amongst children and teens than the actual rave culture it proposed to represent. Think: bomber jackets and ultra-baggy jeans, graffiti and spliffs.
I stoop low. The enclosed space of the inflatable is tight, grotty and the UV light highlights splats of paint and dirt. Surrounded by the narrator’s voice, a fairly simple narrative unfolds; a man taking his dog for a walk. This slowly unravels to absurdity, punctuated by highly strained phrases — “... Resurrected post-industrial ... for punks and artists” — as the protagonist talks to his dog while they wander through an elaborate parody of an Arts Council endorsed, newly built imitation of an abandoned warehouse.
The protagonists are deeply cynical as they stumble across strange characters in this faked wasteland. Kids inhale balloon gas, which turns out to just be air and then shout subscribe to PewDiePie as they run away. One is described as “stabby”. Others play happily with a tractor tire. They pass an old lady chanting Sex Pistol lyrics to herself, and are unsure if she’s being paid for this. Everything is a fake, and people are confused in a landscape crafted by powerful institutions — the government and the Arts Council.
As the protagonists continue, they encounter broken glass curated across the floor and a rave organised by the local MP who mutters something about “getting back to basics.” After the mic clutching MP’s performance, they can hardly take anymore. “Let’s go home,” says the dog. They leave, then there’s a brief pause. The audio track, like the cycles of fashion, counterculture, the mainstream and capital, loops back again.
Previous pieces by Goddard have played with similar pop culture references, an adolescent sensibility, subtexts of violence and politics, with a blackly comic humour. This new installation is a highly evocative illustration of key concerns by Goddard, using the ‘Trip to Eclipse’ clothing line as a humorous point of entry. Sharing a similar interest in British working class and music history as Mark Leckey and Jeremy Deller, Goddard’s critique stands out as firmly anti-nostalgic. While the brand at hand is a phoney, a naff imitation crudely ripping off a legitimate subculture, Goddard is no purist. He is often highly critical of the ways that authenticity is coveted and monetised as he is his own role as an artist.