Debra Swann, 'Trouble in Paradise installation', mixed, 2009. Photo: Tether. Courtesy: Debra Swann. [enlarge]

Debra Swann, 'Trouble in Paradise installation', mixed, 2009. Photo: Tether. Courtesy: Debra Swann.

Debra Swann, 'Trouble in Paradise installation', mixed, 2009. Photo: Tether. Courtesy: Debra Swann. [enlarge]

Debra Swann, 'Trouble in Paradise installation', mixed, 2009. Photo: Tether. Courtesy: Debra Swann.

Bookmarks

Feedback Feedback

Inappropriate material?
Ideas? Technical issues?
» Feedback to a-n

REVIEW

Debra Swann - Trouble in Paradise

The Wasp Room, Nottingham
26 February - 15 March 2009

Reviewed by: Lauren O'Grady »

     The space is a tardis thrown back through time into an antiquarian land of paradise; and that's where the trouble begins. A huge set of antlers rammed through the wall, the colourful yet lifeless birds roost on them and the remains of others litter the floor. Has our arrival into this paradise caused the trouble or was the paradise already flawed?

     Firstly the viewer is struck by the drama of the beast's entrance through the wall and the colourful plumage of its feathered friends. And as the eye draws back the carnage is revealed. All this time you are thinking in terms of life and death, animals and plants whilst knowing you are looking at tape and paper, rubber bands and dried grasses. The craftsmanship is entrancing and the attention to detail really captures the imagination.

     The simplistic honesty of the materials creating the details is demonstrated by the birds' claws, whilst not hiding the fact that they are twisted paper and rubber bands they are gnarled claws and knuckles. Playing on the truth (the raw materials) which form the fiction is not something taken lightly by this artist even down to the use of brightly coloured dried grasses. Dyed the garish colours to mimic nature, to give them life? Then used to create a fabricated version of paradise. One small patch is wedged into the skirting of the space and is instantly transformed into a living, green, mossy plant. Recognisable as what it is made of and what is made to be.

     You also can't help but think of mounted antlers, kept by hunters or displayed in museums, adding another layer to the fiction, are we the trouble in paradise? Reminiscent of the Victorian explorer plundering paradise to wow and titillate the world back home, bringing back trophies and examples of all the life forms discovered. Does our need to collect and archive and own ruin the places we seek and discover? 

As these two worlds lock horns the outcome seems doomed. The here and now of the gallery space, the brown tape and rubber bands in a strange battle with the imaginary, paradise, a huge beast and colourful birds. Is this clash the cause of the destruction; is the death and dying a nod towards the lifeless materials from which it is made? 

While your mind wanders through the intricacies of this paradise it dwells on the character of the artist and where she fits within it. Is she the creator of this odd utopia? Is she the intrepid explorer who discovered it? Is she the collector and displayer of the artefacts? Well to me she is all three and more. I think the artist sees herself as the trouble in her own paradise.

Venue detail:
The Wasp Room »
The Wasp Room, Tether Studios, 17a Huntingdon St, Nottingham, NG1 3JH

www.tether.org.uk Open in new window

Post your comment

No one has commented on this article yet, why not be the first?

To post a comment you need to login