Jungle Jam/The Black Moss

Chelpa Ferro and Juneau/projects
FACT Centre, Wood Street
8th December 2006 – 21st January 2007 (Tues-Sun 11am-6pm)

Reviewed by Adam Ford

If you are reading this between 8th December 2006 and 21st January 2007, on any day Tuesday to Sunday after 11am and before 6pm, there is huge environmental damage being done at Gallery 1 of the FACT centre.

There, a computer is instructing motors to spin round in various patterns, whacking plastic bags against the walls. This is ‘Jungle Jam’ – the work of Brazilian artists Chelpa Ferro (‘old money’) – so this must be art.

The bags – which are just like those you could buy in Home and Bargain – came all the way from South America, by plane presumably. The computer and motors create carbon emissions far in excess of any artistic merits. "Different bags make different sounds”, explained one of the trio. Quite.

In Gallery 2, Juneau/projects’ ‘The Black Moss’ is far more interesting, and much less harmful to the planet. ‘I’m Going To Antler You’. Unless those animal skin rugs are real, in which case it’s a close run thing. At least the music – which comes from the hand-painted drum kit – is only triggered by someone being near enough to hear it. The songs come from young bands Ebony Angels and The Ambers, who were formed in two Birmingham youth groups. They designed their own logos and costumes, and the room has a nice kind of playfulness about it.

Then there’s this kind of retro eighties computer game called ‘Beneath the floorboards of the forest, empty space’, where a Stephen Hawking-alike voice reads poetic descriptions of nature and the gallerygoer’s mission – should they choose to accept it – is to escape from a forest by selecting north, south, east, west and other options like washing your face. In my twenty-five minutes I angered a blackbird and was stung by the ‘enormous barb’ of the same hornet on three separate occasions. Then I have to admit I gave up. An attendant told me it can be done, in about two days.

But the best part of this exhibition –perhaps the best part of any exhibition I’ve seen this year – is the misleadingly titled ‘Instincts are misleading (you shouldn't think what you're feeling)’. The Media Lounge has been made over into a kind of grotto, where mellow music plays, and visitors can make their own creatures out of pipe cleaners, glue and various bits and pieces. These creations are then photographed and placed on a ‘shrine’ to nature, and each creator takes home a complimentary cd. If the capital of culture year was that and nothing else, I’d be made up.

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Comments:

Comment left by Jane on 12th January, 2007 at 17:08
As this installation is described as Ďa musical experimentí I canít help wondering if it wouldnít be more successful if the exhibition space was unlit so that the visitor, on entering the gallery, would be immediately confronted with an aural experience. Letís face it the visuals, though tinged with humour, arenít anything special, rather more a distraction and likely to deter visitors. However, to enter the gallery with the lights turned off and to allow the visitor to absorb the sounds created by the whirring plastic bags would be magical. Are they birds trapped in a chimney or autumn leaves swirling in a gust of wind or a plastic bag caught in telegraph wires? Without the distraction of the visuals the visitor could hear the sounds of their own creative imagination and Iím sure theyíd return to enjoy the experience again and bring others with them. Itís an interesting exhibition but could be a great exhibition if the lights were turned off and only the ears perceied!

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