We stand upon the brink of a precipice. We peer into the abyss – we grow dizzy. Our first impulse is to shrink from the danger. Unaccountably we remain. - Edgar Allen Poe, “The Imp of the Perverse”
Welcome to a room full of urges.
First, the urge to explore, to go out into a field of white, uncluttered by the imagery of others. An urge for that time when you could just go, and be the first one, and when you could still just paint. A desire for what you can’t quite get at. The representation, however, begins to lose its dominance in these of works as the gloss enamel becomes sufficient in its charms. This is painting’s desire for itself, for the sensuousness of its own pure materiality. Its surface value sometimes seems all we need. You could drown in this gloss. But this lust for paint caused paintings first death.
Speeding across Sally Tape’s surface is more lustre. This work shares with Fifer’s a sense of something you can’t get at. This work is also a reaction to the clutter of the visual. The clutter of off-cuts, little bits of images left over by the industrial processes of photography. Together, they remind me of trying to piece together a view seen through a blind.
Not all desire leads to demise. Desire is a consumable as well as consuming, and the sly pop reference of the title of this exhibition gives us a wink in this direction. The stereotypes of desire are critiqued most clearly in Carl Scrase and Candice Cranmer’s works. In Cranmer’s work the basic instinct of breathing becomes material. The breath has sound, form and pressure. It is insistent, the breath struggles, but still takes the over the image. Both the breath and the gaze have been extracted from the stereotype of filmic desiring. The gaze anticipates the climax of exchange, however, this plot line has been rendered almost comical. Represented by colours and props more appropriate to playschool. The heavy breath we have come to expect just keeps going without end. The gaze is interrupted, but there is no last gasp.
What never manages to surprises me about pornography is its banality, you find yourself focusing on some retro scrunchy that reminds you of Seinfield, wondering if that look will ever make a come back, I guess that’s because the other bits are all the same. Carls Scrase has cut away at the pornographic body. These cuts pull the obscene back from the brink of banality, and restore visual please to the tired out bits. These bits could be any other bits, they have been made obscure, therefore new, and therefore delightful again. This works reminds us that there can be some delicacy to the body and its representation.
I am not sure if I am looking at a narcissistic pool, or a void. Then I listen to the reference, and it can be both: It’s narcissistic to assume that your love is more real, but that’s just the way it feels. There is such pleasure in despair. Like turning on the song and shutting your door this work invites you to slip into a shinny black pool of angst and dance around.
One work is all alone. Like all photos, this is frozen time. The figure seems to be caught of the emulsive surface of the image. Their feet, and the bottom of their legs, are fading into the milkiness of the ice-rink. The skater is stuck on the brink, teetering above their own shadow, not falling in, just hovering in a sentimental uncanny moment of lonesomeness.
There is a fatality to this attraction for material, the desire to have it stand as a proxy for your desire. There is desire within the material for itself, it sensorial experienced materiality. We remain pause on the brink. Art making is terminal, but material is nice.