THE HIGH LOW SHOW
Curated by Paul Carey-Kent
6 May - 24 June 2017
Opening Friday 5 May, 6pm - 8pmLate opening with artists' talks: Thursday 25 May, 6pm - 8pm
The High Low Show, curated by Paul Carey-Kent, is a site-responsive adventure in contrasts and connections. Each of seven artists have work upstairs and downstairs in Laure Genillard's distinctively divided space. Each artist's works will operate between registers of high and low, including altitude, viewpoint, mood, value and cultural register. Other relationships emerge across the 'total up' and 'total down', generating many routes around a multimedia show featuring Bronwen Buckeridge, Susan Collis, Sara Haq, Tom Lovelace, Kate MccGwire, Sarah Roberts and Julie Verhoeven.
Bronwen Buckeridge’s experience as a producer feeds into her binaural sound installations. Here she generates stimulating discrepancies between what we see and hear: upstairs, in Site Sampling, an optician tells us where to look, only to direct our gazes – in the absence of eye charts – to the street activity we might have overlooked. The other sounds, though, come from recordings of the scene by night. Downstairs, in Sounding Periscope (situation s), we hear bats – emerging from a cave, perhaps – but also the live sound outside, now captured from a point rendered confusingly high by the use of a weather balloon.
Susan Collis sets up confusions which undermine our conventional bases for ascribing value. Was that dust sheet left behind in error as the show was installed? No, the carelessly splashed paint on Any paradise can trudge here is actually scrupulously embroidered: what seemed accidental stemmed from slow, deliberate, skilled labour. Upstairs, the utility socket on the floor is raised up, this time physically and presentationally as well as through the attention paid to it: the frottaged form is placed on a plinth. That, moreover, hides the original of Understudy and invests it with the value and allure of an item worthy of secretion.
Sara Haq has known precarious times – recently suffering periods of ill health and homelessness – but, as the gentle self-mockery of the series title Quantum of Solace indicates, she maintains a spirited delicacy and wit. Haq punctuates the show, building shifting perspectives of both high and low into each of her photograph, chipboard and object combinations: clouds, feathers and leaves share common space with fallen trees, roots and mud. Being short, says Haq, it’s a nice change to have people looking up as well as down! There is, she implies, the potential to move through every problem. Inner resourcefulness is connected to nature: there is a seed.
Kate MccGwire is known for the fantastical sculptures she makes from quantities of feathers which it’s already an achievement to source. They come from the high place of flight, but the lichen-like growth of Host and the coiled, unsettling sensuality of Sentient are shot through with ambiguity and darkness – even though the latter affects the purity of white as it writhes inside its glass mausoleum. Perhaps it isn’t quite the descent it seems to the Vermiculus series of graphite life drawings created by maggots crawling across a paper surface. And they crawl towards the light.
Tom Lovelace, though a photographer, does not foreground the camera here. Upstairs, what could be mistaken for a painterly riff on Rothko is actually a photogram on fabric. Lovelace found the three sheets layered here attached to a theatre in Italy, where the presence of posters had been recorded by the sun in a multi-year ‘exposure’. Jim, named for a similarly long-serving steelworker, combines a utilitarian air vent (which could be part of the gallery’s architecture) with an illuminated image of a parhelion , so pointing up from the industrial towards, if not transcendence, then The last Sun from Spoleto.
Sarah Roberts’ O Buoy - From Buoy stands the surface of a swimming pool on its side, rendering its earnest division into lanes rather futile. Downstairs we are immersed in its boxed, rolled and stacked depths, complete with invented perfume. You can treat Partial Plastic Oasis as an image, or walk in: either way form is collapsed into an anthology of surfaces. The 'original' casino pool and spa were in Reno: their plastic landscapes carry an artificiality suited to enforced 'relaxation'. Roberts is a writer-sculptor, and her accompanying poem describes this half-screened off place as ‘flattened and formed into fifty shades of still true blues’.
Julie Verhoeven made her name in the world of fashion – sometimes looked down on by the guardians of what should count as art – and it has remained central to her ever-expanding and compellingly madcap practice. Upstairs, Together We Are Beautiful was made for Marc Jacobs, but channels many an art trope into its stream of visual jokes. Downstairs, one can read parodies of fashion – as well as of our attitudes to cleanliness, self-presentation, sex and consumerism - into the base humour of Now wash your hands. It was made for Verhoeven’s engagingly maximalist residency as a toilet attendant at the 2016 edition of Frieze.