Revolver, Part I, Matt’s Gallery
Reviewed by Eliza Apperly
Between the 5th September and the 18th November, Matt’s Gallery presents ‘Revolver’, a fast-paced, three-part series of ten artists who will display work in groups of three or four. In Part I, co-curators Richard Grayson and Robin Klassnik, Director of Matt’s Gallery, set the precedent for a project characterised by its mixed media which seeks to prompt reverberations across time, themes and formal concerns.
Each participant in ‘Revolver’ Part I has an independent exhibition brochure and an individual room within the expansive gallery area. Divided by walls and separated on paper, Layla Curtis, Andrew Kötting and Juneau Projects are treated with the autonomy of a single artist survey and receive, as such, the spectator’s concentrated attention. We become absorbed in the particularities of style, subject and practice: mesmerised by the itinerant, absurd, movements and mutterings of Kötting’s black and white, Beckettian movie, ‘Klipperty Klöpp’ (1984), captivated by Juneau Project’s robot-worked landscapes in ‘The Capexagon Series’ (2011) and dizzied by Curtis’ ‘Tong Tana’ (2012) where jolting point of view footage proceeds through the Borneo jungle, beset by blinding sunlight and insect noise. Each room becomes such a unique, immersive, viewing experience that to emerge from one and enter the other seems almost a betrayal.
As we recalibrate eyes and mind from film to mechanised painting and back to film, however, resonances do indeed emerge, and resonances all the more organic for the fact that each of the displayed pieces was selected when already in progress or completed, rather than specially commissioned. In ‘Tong Tana’ and ‘The Capexagon Series’, for instance, we find the same basic intent to evoke a particular landscape. Where Juneau Projects, with their ongoing investigation into the relationships between natural, social and technological strata, used a laptop powered paintbrush to portray a woodland setting, Curtis, famous for her enquiries into navigation and mapping, employed a head-mounted camera and binaural microphones and a hunter from the semi-nomadic Penan of Borneo, one of the last surviving hunter-gatherer tribes in the world. While the topography of the two projects leaps from the rustic to the rainforest, both Tong Tana and The Capexagon Series explore the elemental human need to know, understand and master an environment, with the ultimate mastery, perhaps, in its representation.
Against human proficiency, Kötting’s ‘post punk piece of pagan sensibility’, ‘Klipperty Klöpp’ and Juneau Projects’ ‘Sleepwake’ (2011) challenge perceptions of progress and purpose. ‘Klipperty Klöpp’ sees Kötting repeatedly, frenziedly running up and down a bleak hillside and round a field in a figure-of-eight pattern, intermittently imitating the trot and canter of a horse. Layers of sound accompany this solemn activity, merging church bells with bagpipes, choral singing and a monologue which ranges from the mythical (‘to the end of the earth’) to the vernacular (‘whoopsie daisy’) with a rhythm and repetition reminiscent at once of liturgy and Gertrude Stein. Alongside this absurdist drama, fraught with our search for meaning, ‘Sleepwake’ questions whether meaning and thinking is still really the property of humanity, with a Pacman-styled robot seemingly ‘blinking’ with cognitive sparks.
As such intricate associations materialise across three very distinctive and deeply involving artistic encounters, so too does a valuable conversation space evolve. ‘Revolver’ promises to be a dynamic, discursive venture, not only presenting top quality artists but also exploring display practice, curatorial approaches and exhibition models.