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systems and depravity: sarah sze, the white room, grayson perry and candice tripp.

i've been quite ingrained in the residency - not really leaving the 'compound' of hackney wick much. but i have tried to at least check out a couple of exhibitions every couple of days - get out of my head a bit.

systems: sarah sze and crystal world

i'm a sucker for a moving system in artwork. 

hany armanious' worm castings piece bubble jet earth work was the first time i discovered the beauty of watching organic and mechanic process come together in an art gallery.

of course fischli and weiss' der lauf der dinge is a seminal systemic work that is beautiful and progressive and subtly performative that has become my desert island piece for this kind art.

i recently loved pip stafford's crystal work - all my world is a scaffold in hatched at PICA. i thought i wrote about it here, but it turns out i was too busy getting busy in perth to bother actually blogging about it.

and in the last week or so, i've seen two more works that really tickled my fancy, making me think that there's some of spooky connect happening at the moment:

crystal world at [space] in the white building. it's across the road from performance space, so i could literally pop in and check it out, watching it grow and change. 

based on JG Ballard's novel of the same name, it is an exhibition that is the result of an open lab reconfiguring old circuit boards and apple power macs. using rock ores, water pumps and baths, acid solutions, high voltage and electrolysis, the work is developing new forms and chemical muckery. there is a section using the live culture from natural yoghurt (to do what, i'm not sure yet) and mimesis of neuroscientific circuits using natural and commercial electronic elements.

it's quite intriguing to watch and i always like work that has me looking and analysing the way of things in a beautiful way.

sarah sze is someone who does this super well. i've always liked her work and i was quite excited to see her show at victoria miro - especially as i usually only see painting in that gallery. she took over the whole of the ground and first floor galleries with a series of systemic installations.

the ground floor contained about 5 smaller works - from simple linear extensions, to complex and tenuous balancing pieces, some with movement, most with light. they are so exquisite and beautiful.

the whole gallery upstairs is darkened to host a large-scale work in the round that reminded me of a solar system, but also of the camp map of burning man (and image that went around a while ago). a pendulum swings around and across the installation, tracking form, light, connection and space. as well as her sticks and clips and string and paper - there are replicas of contemporary and natural objects, which is something that i noticed (wondering why she didn't use a real show and/or mice).

you could get lost in following each overlapping track and path that the works make.

depravity: grayson perry and candice tripp

grayson perry is famous here.

i only know that because when i walked into the gallery to see the sarah sze show, it was crowded - full of old women and couples checking out the show. not that sze isn't entitled to that kind of crowd, but it's not what i usually see when i go to a show at that gallery. turns out grayson perry is on the telly and now draws massive crowds.

which is great. he has some important things to say about class  - a particularly white english thing that still really exists. and his tapestries in this show are quite amazing. based on rake's progress, vanity of small differences documents the social mobility of contemporary life - made possible through the technological revolution (following on from the last movement made possible by the industrial revolution). it follows tim rakewell, a kid raised by a single mum and his grandmother, who marries into more money, makes it big as a geek, becomes a classic middle class smartypants, rich nouveau riche twat then ends up in the gutter. grayson's style is garish and graphic, perfect for tapestry and ceramic vases. he uses symbols, codes and behaviours of contemporary life, so the works are easy to 'read'.

whilst he doesn't go into intense depravity, he scratches at the facile and unpalatable pursuit of 'progress' and our vapid desires. the courseness of human motivation and relationships vibrates in all those pinks, yellows, bright blues and clashed combinations of colour. they're quite fabulous.

as a compliment, candice tripp's painting show at black rat projects is a stark and dark exhibition of humanity's fight for survival with similarly depraved means. actually, both shows reveal humans' mean-ness and shallowness.

children, masked in animals and tribal symbols appear to 'play', yet leave each other ostracised, dying, diseased, scarred and discarded. the competition and territorial nature of humanity, especially faced with scarcity comes through.

and maybe because i'm doing a bit of research towards HIV in southern africa, but the dynamics between the young girls in these works and the creepy beautiful titles reminded me of the social messages coming out around the disease: promiscuity, judgement, privilege and ignorance.

all of these shows had a nice balance between the way of things and the way of being. i like it when that happens.


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