Pam Ginn, ‘Video still from A Film’, 2005. [enlarge]

Pam Ginn, ‘Video still from A Film’, 2005.


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The best years of our lives

36 Frederick Street, Birmingham
30 September – 29 October

Reviewed by: Mona Casey »

Curated by Michelle Cotton of S1 Artspace (as part of a Midwest initiative) this exhibition shows the work of recent art graduates from colleges within the West Midlands region. Nine artists present artworks which engage with a variety of ideas, such as the philosophical and religious querying in Pam Ginn’s humorous video; Tamsin Gears’ eleven-screen montage of the nocturnal surveillance of a costume rabbit head-wearer; and Natasha Maxwell’s diminutive painted scenes on wood that depict paradisial habitats seen through a tinted palette.

Stuart Whipps presents a series of photographs, which show the interiors of industrial workspaces at the Rover factory at Longbridge. The photos document areas no longer inhabited by workers such as offices, hallways and seating areas. Though devoid of human presence we are made all too aware of the signs and traces of previous human activity. Whipps’ poignant photographs achieve a sense of excavation making the viewer feel like they are discovering interiors now lost.

Jim Young’s black and white video projection is made up of scene after scene of gruesome and violent acts culled from the film footage of George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead. At each cut we witness shootings, decapitations shown in excruciating slowness, exploding heads, and so on. The perpetrators relish in their gruesome activity while seemingly targeting ordinary Americans going about their everyday business. The images seem incongruous against the sounds of Bach’s beautiful piece Air on a G String. The compression of these violent acts and the removal of the original storyline leaves us bombarded and questioning film’s propensity towards violence and the nature of man’s inhumanity to man.

If there is a link between these selected artists other than their recent graduate status it is that each is tentatively grappling with their own voice. These artists have presented us with a glimpse into issues or ways of working which may influence their practice in the future and, as Darjusz Matusiack’s mirrored sculptural equation suggests, there are ‘choices’ – we must simply question the possibilities.

Mona Casey is an artist based in Birmingham and co-founder of Colony.

Writer detail:
Mona Casey is an artist living and working in Birmingham who works both individually and collaboratively and is co-founder of COLONY an artist's run space. She is interested in writing about all art forms and has a particular interest in 'curatorial agendas' and ideas of 'truth' in photographic and digital media.|

Venue detail:
Midwest »
PO Box 3641, Kidderminster DY10 2WP

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