by FStapleton

1. Cedric Christie
2. Iain Sinclair
3. Ian Stevenson
4. Sean Dower
5. From This Moment On...
6. Gregor Schneider

Cedric Christie
I Could Have Done That, Commercial TimeOut Oct 22nd 1997 Issue 1418
by FStapleton

In the upper gallery, various revisions of Modernity are under way. Mixing and matching elements from several sources – high and low, art-historical and art-shop – Cedric Christie's I Could Have Done That skews these incarnations by passing them through the thickened media of press distortion, wandering attention and popular indignation. On the floor, he has placed a more or less convincing imitation of Carl André’s Equivalent VIII. Famously, at the Tate in 1976, this work was transformed through popular scandal into a costly and useless ‘pile of bricks’. The new version appears here as a kind of materialisation of the murk of disgruntlement and faulty recall which surrounds the original. Nearby, on the wall, a similar sort of out-of-focus squint is aimed at some of Barnett Newman’s seminal oeuvre. Christie has reworked Newman’s Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue, dividing it into three separate black and white panels, each with the name of a colour embossed into the centre. By doing so, he confounds Newman’s early colour and late black and white work. He also throws a bit of Jasper Johns’ words-on-canvas into the mix, producing an odd mush of High Modernism.
In the lower gallery, another version of the game is begun. This time, it’s directed at generalised veneration for a Big Name from a past age. Christie boils Shakespeare’s complete works down to the inert vestiges of their most basic component, ie the letters of the alphabet. The results appear like the elements of a Mensa qualifier. This cheeky reduction is repeated as a painting, an installation, a film and a sculpture. Four standard categories of art have been laid bare for this purpose.


Iain Sinclair
Jago, TimeOut Nov 12th 1997 Issue 1421
by FStapleton

According to the blurb on one of his recent books, Iain Sinclair ‘walks the reader into a deranged remapping of London.’ This might adequately describe his first art show which, like a literary work, opts for data-richness over plastic presence.
Extending his interest in what he calls the ‘psychogeography’ of London, Sinclair has invited eight volunteers – some of them familiar names – to select destinations from an outdated map for him to walk to. He also asked them to work at uncovering their own occult visions of the cosmopolitan experience. The resulting items, plus snapshots of the journeys and Sinclair’s own notes, are neatly filed along the walls. Within the rigid confines of this project, gentle possibilities are allowed to flourish demurely. In this mass of detail, one can trace idiosyncratic routes of one’s own. Critic Marina Warner has donated a pair of plastic toy shoes and a hair-raising fantasy about a ‘saint’ who, surviving horrors, left her footprints embedded in volcanic rock. Novelist Michael Moorcock provides a bottle of Daddies brown sauce, along with the suggestion that Sinclair may be the bastard offspring of Lord Longford. There are photos of a large pentangle sprayed onto a pavement, a plaque in memory of comedian Bernie Winters, and a drift of pink Spring blossom.
These broken dreams of London and beyond recombine to produce a revision of the city as an insubstantial mnemopolis. Incongruous highlight among the drifting wreckage is a Japanese edition of a Jeffrey Archer novel.


Ian Stevenson
The Coronarium, TimeOut Oct 22nd 1997 Issue 1418
by FStapleton

As you step inside the Coronarium – a glass, metal and concrete panopticon, so named as it was built in the Jubilee year to house a celebratory crystal crown – you interrupt an invisible beam triggering a series of noises. There’s distant traffic, slowed down talking, machinery, water, and moaning voices. These hauntings, created by Ian Stevenson, are appropriate to a shrine once dedicated to something akin to a hillock of Ferrero Rocher chocs.
In the daytime, the pedestrian tourist traffic is momentarily diverted into this small, transparent folly. Children in particular like to join in, howling feral responses. They seem to do very well without paying any attention to the intrusive note pasted in triplicate on the glass that lamely attempts to define the experience, and falsely claims it to be an example of ‘the innovative deployment of cutting-edge contemporary art’. Instead, there are mild pleasures provided by the casual interweaving of internal and external sights and sounds, coupled with the charming novelty of strolling through a place not dissimilar to the village set of The Prisoner, and detouring into this Tardis of eerie sounds and silences.
At night, the mood-lighting of St Katherine’s Dock sports amiably over the office blocks and pleasure craft. This is the time that one can most clearly experience the playful gloominess of the work. Its faintly comic qualities converse haltingly with the incongruous island of gentrification that surrounds it.


Sean Dower
Matt’s Gallery TimeOut Nov 26th 1997 Issue 1423
by FStapleton

Zombie lore has it that when there’s no more room in hell, the dead shall walk the Earth. In Sean Dower’s home-made movie, a group of undead art students, pale and fresh from the grave, shamble through the local area. En route, they pick up debris – crates, a shopping trolley, boxes, bits of wood and paper – and converge on Matt’s Gallery, the scene of their own mystic promotion. Once there, they shuffle around, listlessly combining their objets trouvés into half-hearted assemblages.
The movie is presented on a big screen leaning into the middle of the room. Shot in 3D, the action looms wonkily into the space. These are the co-ordinates of the satire. The numbed action occurs right here in the gallery, the studio, the college – the spaces where art is formed or fails to form; where students, more dead than alive, languish in the twilight separating them from a sense of their own work. The craven freaks, not quite able to work alone or collaborate, are impelled to trudge forward in unison, clutching forlornly at tattered possibilities.
Inevitably, in the actual world of the art student, this situation is relieved one way or another. At college, either secretarial, tyrannical or creative attitudes sooner or later prevail. In Dower’s comedy of living death, the results are left largely unannounced. In the final minute, the undead spot the camera and surge gracelessly towards it. Maybe cannibalism is the most attractive option after all.


From This Moment On...
The Approach, TimeOut Dec 3rd 1997 Issue 1424
by FStapleton

The works in this group show surreptitiously check and confirm each other’s faint pulse. In particular, Andrew Grassie’s three small painted views of this very exhibition function as monitors for the slow leakage of energy. In his miniatures, various details of the gallery recur in even more mutated form. He has lowered the blood pressure of his own work by adding trompe-l’oeuil shadows, shifting his pictures to the status of paintings of paintings of paintings.
In one of these views, a tiny vision of the crucial moment from Rachel Lowe’s movie loop of John Cassavetes’s The Killing of a Chinese Bookie can be detected. A felt-tip outline of the frame in which Ben Gazzara shoots his victim imposes itself over the rest of the loop like a shaky template of disaster. Nearby, the electronic dripping from Aletta de Jong and Jason Coburn’s upside down stereo happens to mark time with the repeated image of the bookie pacing in slow motion towards his final bath.
In the context of the subdued regime of the show, Shizuka Yokomizo’s dark photos of solitary sleepers bring to the surface some more obscure qualities of sleep. Here, one thinks of a withholding of living energy rather than recuperative napping.
By the door, Coburn’s double tapping sound, like a mike being tested or a chair being cautiously shifted, reservedly announces the possibility of a beginning.


Gregor Schneider
Sadie Coles Gallery, TimeOut Dec 10th 1997 Issue 1425
by FStapleton

The three videos playing on big wall-mounted tellies triangulate a ghostly inertia. The first is of a spare and static interior view. The second is a tireless looped journey in and out of a room containing a table set for two. The third shows a boarded up corridor with a chain draped across it museum-fashion, and a mirror-ball wafting dots of light across the walls. In a darkened recess of the gallery, a large video projection charts a struggle through an elaborately crusted interior space riddled with holes, crawlways, chunky outcrops and debris.
Items from these videos resurface in a line of small photos and in the flesh, casually leaning around the gallery. There is a black spiky orb, for instance, and a larger than life plaster breast.
This is a show full of under-developed examples cross-referenced for an attempt at thoroughness. As is often the case, the gallery information sheet reveals the precise reason for the disappointment: back in Monchengladbach, Gregor Schneider has a special house in which he lives and works – it’s normal on the outside, crazy on the inside – which he has rebuilt as a disorienting social space. There is even a room which can rotate so that the unsuspecting visitor exits to quite an unfamiliar place. This sounds like a lot of fun, but what we see in the videos, photos and samplings of objects here is only a diminished form of the house and its contents.

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