Untitled Gallery

Tucked away in the basement of an early nineteenth century building is Untitled Gallery in central Manchester. The gallery’s current exhibition ‘Speak Through’ features a collection of newly-commissioned works by London-based artist Monica Biagioli. Cradled by the small, narrow space with white brick walls, the intimate exhibition is composed of four textual-sculptural works and a large, free-standing sculpture.

The sprawling installation of a PVC pipe sculpture, Before Charge (2012), recalls the mid-twentieth century sculptures of Anthony Caro and Eduardo Paolozzi. Painted white with a thin green veneer, the structure unveils what is usually hidden out of sight. Through this exposure, Before Charge references a tenet of New Brutalist architecture which was characterised by the exposure of functional elements such as pipes and air ducts. Hidden speakers inside the pipes ends emanate spoken word – one side recounting the legend of Alderley in Cheshire and the other apparently giving a recitation of Jungian archetypes.

The accompanying four works are mounted words written in cursive and composed of lead. Using templates carved by hand, Biagioli poured molten lead into the moulds to create text, which she then mounted and framed. At once light-hearted and serious, the text works imply the lead of a pencil which has been expanded onto a surface. The work Prostitute Magician Veiled Child Her Visibility Collapsed (2012) suggests concrete poetry with its emphasis on the visual rather than the textual and its invitation of multiple readings. Using Carl Jung’s theory of the collective unconscious as a point of reference, Biagioli selected words to highlight the various archetypes Jung describes, such as the Wise Old Man, the Hero and the Child. The lead works Avenger (2012) and Vampire Weaver (2012) add to this list of archetypes, emphasising the artist’s interest in fairy tales and mythology.