David Roberts Art Foundation, 111 Great Titchfield Street, London, W1W 6RY

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Review by Eliza Apperly

The Moon is an Arrant Thief marks the first exhibition in the David Roberts Foundation’s new Goldsmith’s project, launched last year. As part of its Curators Series, the Foundation hopes to build a long-term collaboration with the Goldsmiths MFA in Curating, offering exhibition space each year to one winning curatorial proposal. This year’s selected show is the collaborative curatorial project of Thom O’Nions, Luiza Teixeira de Freitas and Oliver Martínez-Kandt, and brings together pieces from an international array of artists, both contemporary and more historical.

Time in flux and time in tension are central to the collective. Saâdane Afif’s Suspense Blanche, conspicuously positioned on the wall directly opposite the gallery entrance, consists of three co-centric white circles, layered one upon another. Colourless geometry from afar, it is only upon closer inspection that we hear the tiered forms tick. The three circles are three clocks - but clocks with hands and digits unseen. This is time audible yet invisible, ominous - time ticking, but colourless, numberless, no longer marked or contained by reassuring and familiar figures.

If Afif alerts us to a profound unease with Time’s invisible yet unremitting march, other works repeatedly tussle with temporal uncertainties. As a number of the selected artists signal towards futures unpredictable or pasts forever lost, it is the invisibles of what might have been, what was once, or what could be which whisper around the gallery space. Kitty Kraus’ Glass Series (2006) is a stark sculpture of two glass panes configured at a daring right angle. Positioned at the centre of the gallery, glinting provocatively in the light, the work seems to teeter on the verge of an ever-imminent, but unrealised, collapse. Tim Etchell’s Let’s Pretend (2008), meanwhile, consists of neon letters proclaiming ‘Let’s Pretend None of This Ever Happened’. Glaring and green, the words point wilfully, restlessly towards a preceding experience which remains unidentified and an experience to be, apparently, imminently expunged from heads and hearts.

In keeping with the Foundation’s ongoing interest in the exhibition itself as an evolving entity rather than a fixed structure, other works foreground their own, and the show’s, transient form. Joëlle Tuerlinckx’s Stukjes stukjes en dingen, dingen dingen en stukjes (1994-2010), a series of hole-punched circles demarcating a square on the gallery floor, not only shifts its shape with each opening of the door or with the passage of visitor’s feet, but also sourced its punched paper from past correspondences regarding The Moon is an Arrant Thief. Similarly, William Anastasi’s playful Untitled (one gallon of industrial high-gloss enamel, poured) (1966-2010) is a work Anastasi has repeated since his emergence in the 1960s and which changes character with each installation, responding to such particularities as room temperature and flooring material.

A meticulous exhibition, The Moon is an Arrant Thief bristles with intricacies and buzzes with actions forever imminent, implied or frustrated. It is a show repeatedly emphasising the great, heavy burden of association, expectation and inference which may impress upon the unseen or immaterial and a show which draws constant attention to our own presence, our own passage through the time and our own contribution to the show’s history.

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