|Damien Roach, Helen Marten, S Mark Gubb
Curated by David Thorp
29.09.10 - 06.11.10
Tuesday to Saturday, 12.00-18.00
Private view: Tuesday 28 September, 18.00-20.30
Matthew Bown Galerie is proud to present Zündkerze, a show by three young British artists, S Mark Gubb, Helen Marten and Damien Roach. Zündkerze is curated by David Thorp.
Despite the global nature of contemporary art, its incidence in the UK has always asserted local characteristics. This is not to say that British artists deliberately strive to affirm a parochial isolationism but rather that their practice can contain distinct characteristics that mark it out from its counterparts in continental Europe and America. Quite how these characteristics may be summarised or where their impetus stems from is harder to determine but, historically, a popular antipathy to mainland Europe, a recent but now nearly defunct colonial past, and a highly structured class system, all play a part. I f the era of the YBAs (Young British Artists) was the era of 'me', current socially engaged art practice asserts the moment of 'us'. The three artists in Zündkerze fall into neither category but demonstrate the effect of both. Unconcerned with the self analysis or the self promotion of some of their immediate precursors, they are the inheritors of the new conceptualism that was used as a catch all term for the YBAs and unpick social norm and cultural influences through the iconography of popular culture and the global language of contemporary art.
S Mark Gubb has described his work as being influenced by "the history and culture I grew up with; rock music, the Cold War, alternative comedy". It is usually shown as installations that combine a variety of objects and images. Gubb spent his teenage years in the east Kent seaside town of Herne Bay listening to and playing heavy metal, and skateboarding, different subcultures that remain relevant to Gubb. A part of his practice that explores the way in which the formal and graphic iconography of subcultures inform a common public. The roots of Gubb's work are literally sub-urban. Most of his projects have been realised outside London, and as such are germane to the discussion that a relevant art practice can occur locally as well as nationally and internationally.
Damien Roach builds environments from associated objects and images. Roach described his recent solo exhibition at the David Roberts Art Foundation in London as the gallery becoming "like a public bench, or bar, the silent invitation is for one to come, sit and take part…". Roach's intention is to draw the audience's attention to things familiar enough to normally rouse no particular comment in such a way that, when perceived in the space he creates, allow the audience to reconsider each in fresh detail. In Zündkerze Roach has pulled together a collection of works some of which have been produced in Berlin by email instruction. Part of their conception is that these works should be made remotely, allowing the artist some distance from the final production while orchestrating the process. Because all Roach's work is finally to do with perception, not solely that of the artist but a common perception that makes the familiar unfamiliar and allows the banal to become special, the hand of the maker is kept at a distance.
Helen Marten, employs a do-it-yourself approach coupled with the high finish of industrial manufacture, a combination of techniques that harks back to Pop Art of the sixties. If her images sometimes refer to past icons such as Tintin or the hammer and sickle they contextualise them by couching retro imagery in the language and form of contemporary art. Marten is constantly rifling through tropes of post-war culture in order to compile a vocabulary of objects and images that provide an account of today. But Martenʼs work is not just about playing clever games with art and design history. Each piece whether it is three dimensional, a found graphic image, a photograph she has taken herself or a moving image establishes a particular view of visual culture. One that acknowledges and to some extent celebrates not only its diversity and accessibility via the internet, Google and so on but also its randomness and the ability we have to make cohesive sense out of apparently disparate events and images.
David Thorp is one of the UK's best-known independent curators. He has always worked with living artists at the forefront of experimental visual culture. He is currently head of visual arts at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London. He is also curator of the annual Frieze sculpture show. He was formerly Curator of GSK Contemporary at the Royal Academy, Curator of Contemporary Projects at the Henry Moore Foundation, and Director of the South London Gallery. He was a member of the Turner Prize jury in 2004. Zündkerze is the first show he has curated in Berlin.
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