, Wood Street (30th June
- 19th August 2007, 10am-6pm)
Here and You Here is the solo exhibition created by London based artist
Anna Lucas. The project - commissioned by FACT - consists of three new
films that have been shot and devised by Lucas, and are on show across
FACT’s two galleries.
Kaff Marium and Una de gato are being shown in gallery 1. Both short
films document Lucas’ journey overseas to trace the origins of two
rare plants. Both of the plants are sold in Brixton market - where Lucas
shops - and are associated with medicinal and spiritual beliefs. Upstairs
gallery 2 plays host to Atlantic Botanic, a two-screen work that juxtaposes
images of London’s Brixton Market on one screen and the interior
of London’s Botanical Institute on the other.
From the literature that accompanies the exhibition - and I highly recommend
you read it before watching the films - I became very excited. It uses
phrases such as: ‘This new body of work explores the social, scientific
and spiritual subcultures surrounding a number of exotic plants traded
in Brixton Market,’ and that Lucas has the ‘distinct ability
to transform seemingly unspectacular moments into those of epic profundity.’
Unfortunately I was disappointed. The ideas behind the work are attractive,
and there are moments of ‘subtle political inflections’, but
overall the films just aren’t very interesting. Some of the camera
work is a bit dodgy and the sound really could be better. This latter
comment is a criticism of FACT. The audio in gallery 1 is poor and is
very difficult to hear, so by housing two films in the same space the
audio from each film seeps into the other. At times I couldn’t work
out if what I was hearing came from the film I was watching or from the
one next door. Also upstairs music from the bar seeped into the gallery
which again made it difficult to hear. The pace of the films is quite
slow and I think this may be because Lucas is trying to present a sort
of art-documentary which doesn’t really work on either front. There
isn’t enough information given in the films to act as an informative
documentary yet the shooting also doesn’t lend itself to an art
piece. However FACT should be praised for commissioning new art works
and I’ll look forward to seeing what is showcased next.
Comment left by Wolfie on 13th August, 2007 at 12:45
It's actually 'Kaff Mariam', not 'Kaff Marium'.
Comment left by Wolfie on 13th August, 2007 at 13:13
Your reviewer presumes too much about the standardisation of filming techniques and audio sampling in Lucas' films. Allow me to say that Lucas' use of sound is as subtle as the political inflections that are observed by your reviewer (I wonder what your reviewer considers these to be, by the way), and that any perceived mis-synchronisation is intended for just that reason. Again, are there universal standards of pacing in film? What is it people have these days against slowness in film? What is it they have against the absence of explicit information? (I wonder whether your reviewer was irked by the lack of subtitles.) Against what universal standards is your reviewer judging the generic parameters that are apparently lacking proper definition in Lucas' films? Perhaps your reviewer should not have read the gallery guide before watching the films. From the review, it seems that expectations were unfulfilled precisely because the films didn't line up in an obvious way with the information given in the guide. I have watched these films many times; they do not strain for any genre - they are just as they are. Which is why FACT should be commended for their work with Lucas: both parties evidently invest in the potential for film to be simultaneously exquisitely beautiful and intellectually significant.
Comment left by el on 13th August, 2007 at 16:55
the sound is supposed to seep into the other in gallery 1. The two pieces are the extension of the same idea. Two works that are inextricably linked
Comment left by Phil on 14th August, 2007 at 12:46
When I visited, a member of staff was quick to point out that the audio 'bleed' between the two works in the larger gallery is intentional. Indeed, they are carefully synchronised for this purpose. If you think on, it would have to be a particularly gross example of ineptitude to have installed the show in this way otherwise.
Also, the fact that you flag up documentary is interesting. Being a reviewer active in the artsworld, with a healthy interest in what artists are 'up-to' at the moment, you will no doubt be aware that a lot of video work is engaged with narrative - and has been for some time. Pieces such as Lucas' are taking documentary devices as a point of departure to articulate new forms for conveying a narrative and for communicating "information". In this case, the juxtaposition of the 2 screens, as with the work in the smaller gallery upstairs, is clearly supposed to have a baring on the viewers reading of the work.