3. March 2018 Sex, Love and Death
Are these perhaps the fundamental psychological drives inherent when making Art? I lean towards the notion that they are. Aesthetics aside that is.
I happened to be walking along the Albert Embankment recently. The first of the snow made a picturesque white covering over the Thames landscape. On the other side of the river I glimpsed Tate Britain, and decided that it would be a missed opportunity not to drop in, I could then catch the tube from Pimlico – all very convenient.
Crossing Lambeth Bridge
Marguerite Humeau – Echoes
In the weirdly named room – ART NOW, I was immediately engaged by a work called Echoes by Marguerite Humeau, an artist formerly unknown to me. I liked this installation – it wanders, droops, drapes, and spreads – a characteristic which seems to be part of so many art presentations today. If I were more cynical, I might call it a fashion. Fashions, trends, move on and ‘Art Now’ could be said to reflect – via various interpretations – the world in which art makers find themselves.
Well, this is what Art should do, should it not? Which leaves someone like myself betwixt and between. Being an oldie, I am back there in a tunnel of memories which includes my own Art History back pack, both personal and literal. This includes art made by artists who were considered to be making work of their time, albeit in disparate ways. These I suppose were considered ‘the greats’ of the Western World, their collective contribution listed within movements i.e. Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, Minimalism etc. This simplification of events leaves out so much more before and since, including much wider terms such as Contemporary, Modern, Post Modern and so on. Thus, such inferences can be informative but also a burden, as they are no longer considered a valid language for today by art aficionados and who wants to be dismissed as out of time? With regards to myself, it maybe a case of – so be it.
And yet, embedded psychological make up, may suggest a link that comes down through the ages, revealing a mixture of past and present which clasps hands in a chain of repetition and connectedness – the DNA of Art? Somewhere, in meaningful art which also speaks of modernity, an inherent text may be able to be recognised – eroticism, mortality, spirituality/love…
Was born in Cholet, France in 1986. She lives and works in London
This is a section of the information introducing her work:
‘M.H’s installation transforms the gallery into a part – temple and part – laboratory, referencing ancient Egyptian mythology and contemporary scientific research to explore modern life. Echoes was conceived as confrontation between life and death. the sculptures are inspired by ancient Egyptian goddesses and sacred animals, taking their names from Wadjet …………..’
Strange chanting accompanies the installation which I found quite mesmerizing – it reminded me somewhat of my Kundalini yoga class. ‘Sat Nam’, – which is chanted ‘Sa-a-a-a-at Nam’ in order to close the class, seemed to be in there somewhere, but maybe not.
The piece is not without humour, it doesn’t take itself too seriously, but this does not belie its seriousness. Maybe it lacks an edge, a bit of punch, but Marguerite is very young to have come so far, and time will tell.
Born 1966 in Bradford West Yorkshire
The Wooworths Choir of 1979
“I am interested in the medium of video as something you experience sensually as well as something you might recognise”
In a darkened room ‘The Woolworths Choir of 1979’ – made by Elizabeth Price played. I am familiar with this work, it won the Turner Prize 2012, and I have watched it a few times since. The video deals with a massive fire that began on the sixth floor of the Manchester Woolworths in 1979, killing 10 people. Flammable furniture stored away ignited, causing the tragedy.
E. P. has made an extremely compelling re telling of the tragedy, using archival news material – showing interviews with the staff and public. The effect of the changing images are reinforced by a robust clapping and clicking sound, which is so forceful it might be described as an assort to the senses, or an explosion of sound. The noise from the repetitive rhythmic breaks accompany old film from the 60’s featuring The Shangri Las. This modern-day reference to The Choir, takes on a semblance of a Hymn which is further suggested by the singing of a modern-day Cathedral Choir, whilst referencing the architecture of the whole Cathedral. The video camera scans ancient tombs and stone carved effigies, whilst a commentary tells of the various sections of the Cathedral, concentrating on the Choir area, where the unique and often profane misericords are to be found, hiding under the small pull down seats for the clergy and public to use. The images highlight themes of death, remembrance and redemption.
The video might cause you to double take on the morality of the piece, but possibly questions of morality are raised by so many art works, whatever form or means are used. A woman who is a sister of a victim of the fire, herself an artist, was outraged by the video and the fact that it had won a prize. I would not presume to comment, but it is a powerful and controversial work.
Video clips of the work can be found on-line.
I think Ripon Cathedral is used in the video. I love Cathedrals and have visited many throughout England, my favourite so far is Lincoln. I have now resolved to visit the one at Ripon. I want to see Alison Wildings sculpture exhibition the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester and I can combine a visit to Ripon as well. The video also touches on many effigies and artifacts that I myself have photographed – including misericords. I have often attended Evening Song in order to view these in detail. Carved from dark oak, they are masterpieces of imagination and story telling, often taking proverbs and the seamier side of human nature as inspiration, they leave you in little doubt as to their message.
The use of pop music is an actual source – E.P. created a band in 1986 in which she also sang. A parallel universe haunts Art making, whereby ghosts of the past are called upon – or choose to present themselves – seeking to reinvent the chaos that haunts and seeks resolution. Yet no one can be called upon to accompany the ghosts – it’s a lonely job. __________________________________________________________________