Category Archives: installation

Side note – Karla Black

Now would be as good a time as any to break away from recording my internship, as in my last post I introduced the work of Karla Black at GI 2012. Karla  represented Scotland at the 54th Venice Biennale and was a finalist for the Turner Prize in 2011, the year that Martin Boyce won. Martin was actually at an opening at the gallery while I was a volunteer tour guide, unfortunately I don’t have pictures but maybe someone does!

Karla’s sculptural installations are known for their light pastel colour schemes and ephemeral quality, and for the artists’ use of everyday household materials. This is a common sub-genre of conceptual and neo-conceptual art in itself, and a feature of a lot of Glasgow artists (hence the title of the latest sculpture show at GoMA, ‘Everyday‘. But more of that later.) One particular talking point about Karla in particular, is her adoption of what could be termed ‘feminine care’ products such as cosmetics, in her work. ‘Don’t Adapt, Detach’ is decorated with glitter eyeliner in place of paint, for example, and those looking closely at ‘Empty Now’ would have seen bronzing pearls casually strewn on the sawdust.

Karla Black GI 2012

The ramifications of such use of materials deserves in-depth discussion, and is a topic I will write about in a later post. The artists’ incorporation of stereotypical ‘feminine’ products raises important questions of meaning, intent, and interpretation. The habit of society to read gender into art, as in so many things, will form part of my Masters research, and the meaning we read into materials is something I am very interested in. Karla Black’s own reaction to such categorization of her work was one of the motivating factors for me in my research, and has posed many as yet unanswered questions.

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Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art 2012

The beginning of my Internship coincided with the start of Glasgow’s contemporary art festival, so I spent my first day visiting nearby exhibitions around Trongate and the Merchant City. There was a staff briefing at the gallery, whose involvement in the festival consisted of an enormous sculptural installation by Karla Black. The work was made with seventeen tonnes of sawdust, and was a feat of logistical acrobatics to install. Who knew sawdust was so heavy? In a listed building, with the Glasgow underground system already running close to the foundations, and a gallery space which had public rooms below it, there was a real risk that the sculpture would cause the floor to collapse. The original design of the work was even heavier…

Karla Black GI 2012

Karla Black detail

 

The sawdust piece is titled ‘Empty Now‘, and the overhanging cellophane ‘Will Attach‘.

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The Light Show, Hayward Gallery, London

I visited the Light Show at the Hayward Gallery back in March (I meant to write about it, apologies) The premise appealed to me: I have never been to an exhibition which was composed entirely of light works, and I was curious. It was a hotly tipped show, so I tried to avoid the inevitable early reviews in the press. I try to make the effort to not read other people’s opinions of shows until after I have seen them myself, so that I can make my own mind up and form an unbiased account of them first. After I’ve done that, then it can be fun to compare different viewpoints on the exhibition in question.

Fast forward two months, and I saw that NY arts blog Hyperallergic waxed poetical about the immersive effect of the Hayward show. You can read their review here.

Immersion

Personally I found the Light Show a physically demanding experience. It is a difficult exhibition: there is little respite from the assault on the senses that comes from neon/undulating/flickering (delete as appropriate) pieces. The spectacular, and possibly infamous, Olafur Eliasson Model for a Timeless Garden translates well to film and may give you some idea of the viewing experience…

*Warning this video contains flashing lights*

The effects of such relentless retinal trickery can be jarring, although the sheer number of works on display sometimes detracts from the impact of the individual pieces. There are of course standout moments, although I thought that Hyperallergic’s description made an important point. The exhibition is immersive, completely and utterly. The Hayward succeeds in this largely due to the vast quantity of light works sharing the space. With fewer works, the focus would be on the individual pieces which in turn would alter the effect.  They would become objects to look at, and light works do so much more than exist to merely be looked at, they are experiential. If an exhibition is easy can it really be experiential?

The Light Show, Hayward Gallery, LondonI visited the

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