Visual art exhibitions and events with a platform for critical writing
Saltburn Artists Projects, Saltburn
26 September ' 14 November
Reviewed by: Nisha Duggal »
When I was a kid I was terrified by a scene in the film Willy Wonka and the chocolate factory (1971) the one where Charlie Bucket, his granddad and the other golden ticket winners went for a ride in Wonkas boat down the chocolate river. Passing into some kind of warp-speed tunnel the lights went out and Wonkas face appeared on screen, menacing under a strobe and revelling in the fear of his passengers. I remember his chant as the boat picked up speed and the journey reached its climax: There is no way of knowing, which way the rivers flowing'
Carl von Weilers work also reflects on a reversal of the expected or natural. The small exhibition consists of four new video works, each installed as a sculptural or painterly object. They are performative in nature and feature looped footage of the artist maintaining a pose or performing an action. There seems to be a deliberate path through the works as each piece becomes more manipulated as you walk though the space. Wedge consists of a TV monitor propping open the door to the gallery. The screen shows von Weiler sitting on the floor with his back leaning against the gallery door, wedging it open. Word play is used in the next piece entitled Strange Fruit. Another monitor hanging from a cable at an angle, depicts the artist hanging upside down, echoing the angle of the screen. His arms are kept rigidly by his sides and he looks like a resting bat. Next door a monitor plays Knockin on Heavens Door. The artist is again suspended upside down and performs a version of Bob Dylans song accompanying himself on acoustic guitar. A plasma screen plays the meditative Envelope, in which the artists body is bisected and digitally poised to hang in the screen as an inverted crucifix: head and torso pointing downwards from the top with feet reaching up towards the head; arms, left and right, the wrong way round. The faint outlines of an envelope define each quadrant of the image.
To me the works speak of a journey or quest for belief and the sublime, via Christianity. The banality of Wedge is a starting point. This work is reminiscent of Martin Creed, but I get the impression it is less of an exercise into semantics and materiality, more an indicator of the contemplative niche from which we should view the rest of the show. Strange Fruit begins the biblical references with the artist representing both himself, and perhaps, the proverbial apple. Continuing along these lines von Weiler is trying to re-enter in Knockin on Heavens Door, or maybe acknowledging a need for beauty after his dark experiments with reversal and gravity (as Wonka knew, there is something subversive and uncomfortable about turning the inside out). From an experiential perspective, one might find it a shame that his iconoclasm concludes with the fragmentation of Envelope, but I think that it serves his subject well not to be too prescriptive.
Nisha Duggal is an artist based in London.
Saltburn Artists' Projects »
Saltburn Gallery, 30-32 Marske Road, SALTBURN TS12 1QG
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