Instantaneous review


|Frieze|

Neal Brown
Frieze Issue 41 June-August 1998

Instantaneous, Beaconsfield, London, 1998

‘Instantaneous’ describes itself as ‘focusing upon the presence of short-lived and individual occurrences’, and claims that ‘…every instant of the exhibition will be different, as the artists’ activities ignite each other to exist as a composite within a moment of time’. This wishful over-excitement turns out not to be the case, and is probably an embarrassment to the better artists in the show, who fortunately remain unignited. In practice, much of the work is resolutely static, and is about differing kinds of endurance. Curiously, the exhibition’s catalogue essay blanks both the art and the artists, failing to mention them at any point.

The gallery space is kept in semi-darkness, to facilitate those pieces involving projection. Works not requiring darkness therefore appear rarer and more enigmatic than usual. Whether intentional or not, this is successfully atmospheric, like the ‘Moonlight World’ building for nocturnal animals in London Zoo…

Commanding the huge back wall of the space is Mark Dean’s Picture in Picture (1998). This is elegantly simple, clear and precise, showing the movie The Picture of Dorian Gray in its entirety. Within the centre of the screen an oval insert shows the same film playing backwards, although this cameo is without sound. Picture in Picture is therefore a visual palindrome, symmetrically reflecting the film’s theme of deferred ageing. In Dean’s construction though, this deferment becomes a double negative of durations. As there is a moment at which the two versions meet, Picture in Picture is absolutely consistent with the stated theme of ‘Instantaneous’. Its only possible fault may be an over-dependency on the original film.

Dean showed other successful variations on the concurrent movie idea, and the random synchronicities and ironic contrasts that these create. In Scorpio Rising 2 (1997), the screen is divided horizontally; the upper showing the trash movie Hells Angels on Wheels (1967), the lower Pasolini’s The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964). Both run normally, to wry effect…


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