Review: The Roadside Museum
Venn Projects, a collaboration between Garth Gratrix, Supercollider Contemporary Art Projects and The Lucky Jotter, has delivered a diverse programme of contemporary exhibitions over the last 12 months. From minimalist sculpture to intricate pencil drawings to the haunting archeological offering of the current exhibition, The Roadside Museum.
For The Roadside Museum, Venn has handed the curatorial baton over to artists Gordon Culshaw and John O’Hare. One year ago, Culshaw and O’Hare selected 13 artists whose work they buried on a farm in the North West of England. Works were buried unprotected up to a depth of 6 feet, in an area with a high water table and acidic oil; the expectation being that this would accelerate the degradation process. The Roadside Museum exhibition is the first chance to see the works together in their resulting conditions.
The exhibition lends an eerie and ethereal atmosphere to the space. The usually pristine white cube is transformed into a rustic vault of indecipherable shapes, sounds and objects. The 13 works have undertaken varying degrees of degeneration; some works disappeared completely, whilst others have taken on new life.
Graham Dunning’s two works, Dubplate and Tape Spool, are complex and jarring soundscapes. Tape Spool utilises a pre-existing work by Dunning called Music by the Metre, which is a spool of abstract music created by the artist using a range of automated machines. In burying the work, Dunning aimed to recreate the story of Lee Scratch Perry burying his master tapes to improve the sound. Similarly, Dubplate is a pre-recorded sound piece of industrial sounds. The beauty of much of the work in the show is that the natural elements and passing of time have added to the work just as much as they have taken away. The excavated soundscapes are punctuated by the sounds of the earth and water integrating with the plastic film; the degradation of the spool in and of itself etching new notes into the tape.
Peter Trukenbrod’s work is a small square structure constructed of sugar cubes, held together by resin. Trukenbrod’s expectation was that the sugar cubes would dissolve over the course of the year. Instead, thanks to the resin, the block of sugar is predominatly still intact; the odd cube has been burrowed into, partially dissolved or chipped away. As a result, the work resembles an abandoned building with broken windows. According to curator John O’Hare, Trukenbrod was inspired to make the work as a peaceful protest aginst his diabetes.
The work I enjoyed the most is Raksha Patel’s buried C prints and negatives, which are presented on a vintage slide projector. Nature has collided with the prints and negatives to create intricate patterns that resemble contemporary abstract paintings. Deep colours and earthy tones project onto the white walls of the space, imitating Jackson Pollock works.
The Roadside Museum is an interesting and intriguing addition to the exciting contmeporary art on offer in Blackpool currently. Melding art with (orchestrated) archeology, the exhibition has a mysterious and haunting quality. The relationship between nature and art is beautifully explored and documented in the work, with stunning results.
Artists in the show: Sarah Carne; Graham Dunning; Barbara Ekstrom; Stig Evans; Veronika Lukasova; Fred Martin; Samira Shafiei Nejad; Riitta Oittinen; Raksha Patel; Topp & Dubio; Peter Trukenbrod; Alana Tyson; Chris Wood.
The Roadside Museum runs at FYCreatives until 6 October 2014. Opening times: Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 10am – 4pm. For more information about Venn Projects visit www.vennprojects.co.uk.