David Noonan (Chisenhale Gallery, London)
David Noonan's work comprise monochrome silkscreen on linen collages and clusters of freestanding figurative sculptures which expand his graphic images into a more theatrical space of display. Noonan often works with found photographic imagery taken from performance manuals, textile patterns and archive photographs to make densely layered montages. These works at once suggest specific moments in time and invoke disorientating a-temporal spaces in which myriad possible narratives emerge. The large-scale canvases framing this exhibition depict scenes of role-playing, gesturing characters, and masked figures set within stage-like spaces. Noonan's new suite of figurative sculptures, comprise life size wooden silhouettes faced with printed images of characters performing choreographed movements. While the figurative image suggests a body in space, the works' two dimensional cut-out supports insist on an overriding flatness which lends them an architectural quality – as stand-ins for actual performers and as a means by which to physically navigate the exhibition space.
Mime and experimental dance still have naff associations – especially of black-clad, white-faced figures adopting strange postures – but this is exactly the sort of retro imagery in David Noonan’s new work. Rather than provoking humour or a sense of the bleedingly unhip, Noonan conjures up a mood far more poetic, filmic and, considering the subject matter, oddly still. The artist has collaged monochrome screenprints of these found images – a pasty Pierrot applying lipstick, a group of drama students sitting cross-legged on the floor – on to heavy linen. The black ink on brown creates a sepia-tint effect but the era could be anytime from the early twentieth century onwards, and the imagined context either benignly theatrical or cultish and sinister. Noonan has also carpeted the floor in a jute material and installed life-size cut-outs, allowing the viewers to interact with this giant, 3D film still. Invoking cult film director Alejandro Jodorowsky (‘El Topo’, ‘Santa Sangre’) in connection with Noonan’s work seems apt here. Jodorowsky studied mime with Marcel Marceau before picking up a camera, and while Noonan’s work is far less extreme (and with none of Jodorowsky’s gore-factor), there’s a similar approach to the body and a shared romantic sense of the surreal.
Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard (Kate MacGarry Gallery, London)Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard present a new work that pushes their recent series of re-working video and performance work from the early 1970's one step further. Walking Over Acconci (Misdirected Reproaches) is both a re-working and a response to a re-working, again twisting the language of contemporary urban music culture. In 2005, Forsyth and Pollard worked with a young MC Plan B to re-interpret and transform Vito Acconci's Walk-Over (Indirect Approaches) (1973). The result, Walking After Acconci (Redirected Approaches), updated Acconci's harsh second-person narrative address, combining it with the slick aesthetic of contemporary music videos. Speaking directly to the camera, the viewer is cast as the spurned lover watching as Plan B paces the corridor outside detailing the perks of his new lover after leaving "a girl as average as you." Applying the musical tradition of the 'answer song', the new film, Walking Over Acconci (Misdirected Reproaches), gives voice to the other side of the story. Like Smokey Robinson's 'Got a Job' in response to the Silhouette's 1958 hit 'Get a Job', or the song feud between Neil Young's 'Southern Man' and Lynyrd Skynrd's 'Sweet Home Alabama' and more recently Eamon and Frankee's manufactured chart spat with F.U.R.B., there is a fluid space of myth and rumour that moves between each narrative. Casting young female electro MC Miss Odd Kidd, Walking Over Acconci similarly draws on Acconci's original to create a new, stand alone work, while also providing its own direct, razor sharp rebuttal to Plan B's previous claims. In its confrontation?complicit with and completed by you, the viewer?the film extends beyond the re-make to create its own performative genealogy.
Getting slagged off to your face by your ex-girlfriend isn’t exactly a pleasant experience. Particularly when the ex in question is a lippy, articulate, loudmouth girl in a stripy top and skinny jeans, who is now going out wiv’ someone who doesn’t give her ANY SHIT, is a great cook and has a big dick too. Lucky you’re in a gallery, and this is just an art video by Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard, the lippy bird being up-and-coming London MC MissOddKidd. For many years Forsyth and Pollard’s work has explored the border between art, pop music and popular culture. ‘Walking over Acconci (Misdirected Reproaches)’ is their second reworking of seminal video artist Vito Acconci’s 1973 ‘Walk-Over’, in which the artist, pacing to and from the camera in a long corridor, addresses the viewer about the qualities of a third, female subject, comparing her qualities to ‘you’. Acconci’s original tests the question of who ‘you’ is in the relationship between the viewer and an interlocutor who is only really a video image, at the advent of the novel medium of video. Forsyth and Pollard’s remake celebrates how we’ve become used to being addressed directly by a screen image: we’re a generation brought up on the image of the pop singer and now the rapper, addressing the camera and speaking directly to the viewer. MissOddKidd’s songs touch on the generic experiences of young urban life, of drugs and shit boyfriends, and her ‘misdirected reproaches’ are expertly generic and clichéd. Forsyth and Pollard’s insight is in the way they reveal how our culture of TV-mediated emotional authenticity is itself a masquerade, a performance.