Review by Doireann O’Malley
The Mobility Project is an exhibition interconnecting six artist’s projects that relate to the accelerating mobility of people and information. Curated by Elly Clarke, it is the second externally curated show at Galerie Suvi Lehtinen since its inception in November 2010 and also the second externally exhibited Clarke Gallery project. Spanning the media of painting, video installation, sound, drawing and performance, the exhibition is an extension of Clarke’s practice-based research into mobility and psycho-geographical experience.
Enda O’Donoghue’s twelve square paintings, Black and White Today, in grid formation invite the viewer to engage with conceptual and economic references to a repeated gesture: the wrist watch and sleeve of a business person. Created from a photograph found on the Internet, (painted only after the artist had successfully traced and communicated with the person who took it) the work references not only the format of time and capital but also the dissemination and re-appropriation of images.
Inhabiting an entirely different psychological space is the meandering sound work of Fedora Romita. Ambient documents recorded on three separate journeys on the S and U Bahn in Berlin (journeys made as a means of getting to know the city the artist had recently moved to) reflect another transient space; that of the underground. A space in which a cacophony of overheard conversations, physical movements and intercom announcements form an aural prism that amplifies incidental sounds into a three-dimensional visual landscape. It is akin to seeing the journey through the underground system with one’s ears.
Directing mobility rather than recording it is Simon Clark’s Postcard Project, for which the artist personally delivered a set of written postcards from the Galapagos Islands direct into the hands of their addressees across the UK. Travelling to these often very remote addresses by boat, train and bike only, a defunct postal tradition is transformed into an endurance performance. The hand-written ‘on holiday’ messages, together with the sound element of this piece (anecdotal stories relayed by the artist of various incidents met with along the way,) hint at the privilege afforded to the artist as traveller and observer as well as the class of the postcards’ recipients.
Next to this, Elly Clarke’s installation references gaps and fractures in time. A five-minute video showing an unexpected moment of stillness (a traffic jam) on the German Auto-Bahn shows what happens if we stop moving. Displayed on a hand-held DVD player placed on an antique chair (upon which the audience is invited to sit) and flanked by an original photographic print of an 1889 Derby-winning race horse, the work contemplates our perception and experience of time (as well as space) as at once multi-layered and non-fixed, permeable.
Meanwhile, Kerstin Honeit’s double projection of two women ‘waiting’ at a fixed point on the street for fifteen minutes brings up questions of meaning and autonomy of the female presence in the urban landscape. An ongoing performance experiment taking place in various cities, the focus of the video shifts from the woman on the street to the passers by.
Reflected on the opposite wall, another painting by O’Donohue ‘Too Slutty’’ also interrogates the role of gender and power in transitory urban interactions as well as the responsibility of the artist. The process clearly working from the tradition of German conventions of the blurring of reality through technological distancing in representation recalls the work of Gerhard Richter and Thomas Ruff.
The digital GPS records of daily journeys gathered by plan b/Sophia New and Dan Belasco from 4th January 2011 until the day of installation are transcribed into graphite lines, direct onto the gallery wall. Traced one by one by the artists over a ten hour long durational performance, these lines recall, map and (re)define a series of linear journeys made by these two individuals through very specific space and time.
Collectively the works transcend the capitalist connotations associated with mobility. Following and expanding the practice of Guy Debord and his Situationist International spatial experiments, these artists are decoding and translating their experiences into illustrations of their different perspectives of time and motion. In a world where the speed of technology and communication has increased far beyond human processing capabilities, the process of making art slows time again to a pace that opens a space for insight and social transformation.
The exhibition runs at Galerie Suvi Lehtinen until 23rd July, with a panel discussion featuring most of the artists in the show and some invited speakers on July 20th. The next venue for this exhibition is The Meter Room in Coventry, where it will be shown in November.
Doireann O’Malley is an artist & writer based in Berlinand Ireland
A link to an extract from ‘S3 (Ekner to Wilhelmshagen)’, from ongoing audio piece For Informational Purposes Only, 2010-11 by Fedora Romita.