- Nottingham Trent University
How to condense 3 years endeavour into a final voice? How to combine 82 different voices into a coherent show? How to cover all of these in one review? Like the labyrinths of the corridors at Nottingham Trent that slink and sway deeper into confusion so in turn does the work become entangled in the myriad of content and concerns. Of course this is not the purpose, or indeed the necessary criteria one should use. A degree show is the culmination of three years work of an entire year of separate students. It is not meant to be a selection of finely curated pieces working together. But one would hope that through the natural process of working together, and the sharing of thoughts and opinions, some organic osmosis of content would organize itself indirectly.
Pieces and structures bounce from one another from one space into another. Ideas clash and collide in what could be a suggestive and exciting sensory overload. And in places this is achieved. Though in others the space was stoically and frustratingly inconsistent. The danger and difficulty with degree shows. So many voices. And no brief hint, outline or step into the works from any accompanying sentences beyond the title and artist meant we had to go this alone.
I found myself, unsurprisingly, drawn to the practices which correlated with my own interests this past year within the same institution, namely moving image. Within the darkened room containing the showreel of several students work pervaded a reverence it did not warrant. The majority of the work was visually and sonically amateur and unconvincing. Though this criticism cannot be laid upon Jeh Seung Yoo, who’s overlong aesthetic 3 Act graphics was almost dragged from the tragically transcendental by its epic exposition of sound. Elsewhere in the labyrinth of confusion Jennifer Webber’s careful and laborious postcard animations disappointed severely in the time to content ratio. And Peter Williams committed to video a distinctly unlikeable and unnecessary act of self-promotion/deprecation concerning cigarettes.
It was in the quiet confines I found space to enjoy. Works such as Rosie Tonkin’s intriguing multimedia installation allowed me to reflect on my own childhood memories. Rachel Murray’s videos of Lilliputian dreams engaged a sense of the wonderous time between sleep and waking day. Eleri Humpfreys’ naughty childhood characters were brilliantly convincing and conveyed a difficult bittersweet depth through humour. Jennifer Hackett’s self-penned songs performed by a small choir at the opening event brought a refreshing degree of professionalism and class to the evening, presenting the audience with a glimpse of a world beyond the art cocoon. Performances outside the degree show within Nottingham city centre showed such connections further. Jenna Finch highlighted the communal pleasures of spoken word with some sparse verse and dash of poetic eccentricity. Simon Burd’s sublime live electronic improvised collaboration with a past NTU Fine Art graduate going under the moniker of Johnny Scarr, showed the health of Nottingham’s avant-garde live music scene.
Nottingham Trent’s 3rd Year degree show of 2008 has shown that at the centre of its labyrinth of corridors is an inconsistent beast, though with the inter-disciplinary the course champions this is hardly surprising. But searching for that rope within the labyrinth was encouraged, because you may just have found something worth holding on to.