Visual art exhibitions and events with a platform for critical writing
Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester
17 February - 18 March 2012
Reviewed by: Carol Huston »
Liverpool-born artist Mark Leckey’s new, minimal exhibition at the Manchester Art Gallery consists of two gallery spaces, one featuring the fifteen-minute short film Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore (1999), familiar to fans of the Turner Prize winner’s (2008) work and his recent show at the Serpentine Gallery in London. Accompanied by a large bespoke sound system and an even larger soundtrack, the video projection is a compilation of found club footage from the 70s through the 90s. According to Leckey, the work intends to portray ‘the descendants of those who worked the steam mill captured at their leisure’.
The second gallery consists of a new work, ‘BigBoxIndustrialAction’ (2012). The work features two adjacent free-standing structures and a series of eight adverts for the performance glued directly to the green gallery wall, as though promoting a club night. The first of these massive structures is reminiscent of an old-school Jamaican sound system, a stacked series of slick, wooden speakers harnessed together with a large orange belt. The second could easily be mistaken for a three-tiered sculpture from the New Brutalist era, rather than its actual provenance as a steam chest from an old Victorian mill, capturing a unique sense of Northerness through the portrayal of industry.
Integral to the exhibition are the audio performances in which the artist gives dynamism to ‘BigBoxIndustrialAction’ in the first gallery space. During Leckey’s performance or so-called ‘action’, the artist-turned-DJ produces a half-hour industrial soundscape so loud that ear plugs are provided for sensitive listeners. Simultaneously, Leckey mimicks the noisy clanking of an imagined factory in addition to a manipulated sound more familiar to today’s ears, recycling looped snippets from opera to rock to the Shades of Rhythm’s Sweet Sensation.
The mirror images of the ten-foot structures are called into action through what Leckey refers to as a ‘feedback loop’ dialogue between the structures and through the prescence of the audience itself. As the crowd connects the two totems by standing in a circle connecting the isolated objects, a form of contemporary idol worship is represented – through an enforced reflection of industry past.
Carol Huston is a freelance arts writer based in Manchester and a current PhD researcher in Art History at the University of Manchester.
Manchester Art Gallery »
Mosley Street, Manchester M2 3JL
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