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15 Jul 2009

The Wild as Will and Mediation at Wiebke Morgan, London

© Cablecar, Suzanne Moxhay, 2008

The Wild as Will and Mediation


26 June - 26 July 2009

Thur – Sun 12am – 6pm

+44(0)20-8983 0708

6 Cyprus Street
E2 0NN
United Kingdom

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Work by Daniel Lehan, Suzanne Moxhay and Nicholas Symes, three artists who share an interest in the re-processing of existing cultural production to create realities of varying degrees of conviction and unease, reflections of imaginative worlds built from material culture, or even immaterial mediations and representations, rather than from 'natural' or 'direct' experience.

Daniel Lehan's installation transposes the romantic notion of the artist struggling to realize his vision into a bathetic, yet perversely difficult, attempt to bring a fantasy of a blooming wilderness (taken from the 1960s children's TV serial 'the Singing Ringing Tree') into the objective world. A video shows Lehan 'as' a bear (the bear in the TV serial was itself a prince transformed into a bear, and was always obviously a man in a bear costume) making flowers, doves and a magical tree, the material components of the piece on display. Is the viewer presented with a video documenting a (bizarre) process for making art objects, or with props used in a performance video, or yet something else ? The audience is left negotiating between three realities: the objects in the gallery, the original fiction they're tied to, and the new narrative (whose relationship to truth and fiction is unclear) through which they've been salvaged.

Suzanne Moxhay's 'Cablecar' presents us with an ideal, if dystopian, world of wilderness as spectacle. As real as the most convincing of dreams, yet simultaneously suggestive of a missing film that might have married the Western with Tarkovsky's 'Stalker', 'Cablecar' is even more radical and poignant in its constructedness. Derived from a three dimensional collage of cut-outs, assembled and re-photographed in the studio by Moxhay using her extensive archive of found imagery, the piece's transposition and reorganization of photographic material across time and space (both real and illusory), undermines any remaining sense of the objectivity of photographic landscape, and further problematises our attachment to straightforward readings of photographic space in general. In creating an image that represents a landscape existing only in the imagination, while at another level remaining a document of the physical material of photography and its malleability, Moxhay has crafted the most sophisticated of double-takes and raised fresh questions about photographic ontology.

In Nicholas Symes' piece, processes of appropriation and distortion take a more physical, and more personal, form. Constructed by combining sections of Thames driftwood and other discarded timber and then working on the assemblage with hand and machine tools and by other means, Symes has reproduced the effect of natural weathering processes on an imaginary unvalued object. Typically for Symes, the work is a labour-intensive hiding in plain sight that celebrates formal and material qualities in a way we would associate with minimalism, but in a form painstakingly disguised as a found object (and, in a double irony, actually created from found materials, the oversupply of the modern world).