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10 Feb 2010

Frances Stark at the Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow

Frances Stark, And brrrptzzap* the subject. (* = scrambled), 2005.
Photo courtesy of greengrassi

But what of Frances Stark, standing by itself, a naked name, bare as a ghost to whom one would like to lend a sheet?
Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow


Exhibition open:
Sat 13 Feb – Sat 3 Apr 2010, 11am – 6pm Preview: Friday 12 February 2010, 7-9pm For tours and information call
+44 (0) 141 352 4900

Kirsty Gordon
+44 (0) 141 352 4900
+44 (0) 141 332 3226

Centre for Contemporary Arts
350 Sauchiehall Street
Glasgow G43 2DZ
United Kingdom

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At the Centre for Contemporary Arts from 13 February to 3 April 2010, But what of Frances Stark, standing by itself, a naked name, bare as a ghost to whom one would like to lend a sheet? marks Frances Stark's first exhibition in a public gallery in Scotland and only the second in the UK since Nottingham Contemporary in late 2009. One of the most intriguing artists to have emerged from Los Angeles' vibrant art scene in the last decade or two, the exhibition at CCA follows several major exhibitions in museums on the European mainland in the last couple of years.

Stark's work predominantly takes the form of collages. Visually, they are reduced to the minimum, with large areas of white paper or white under-paint left showing. Yet these seemingly modest works open onto rich areas of thought. Writing, used visually, has always been central to Stark's art, and for a long time she was better known for her art criticism and creative writing than for her own work. The words are rarely her own, instead lifting them from a wide range of literary sources. Emily Dickinson, Witold Gombrowicz and Robert Musil are particular favourites, as are philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche and The Fall's front man Mark E Smith. Somehow, though, the words of others become her own, revealing her highly idiosyncratic thought processes.

This exhibition begins in 2001, when visual imagery first becomes a consistent aspect of the collages. Since then imagery has played an increasing role in her work, to the point where language drops away altogether. Certain images recur, which can be read like signs: women, who resemble Frances herself; peacocks, exhibiting their extravagant tail feathers; chorus girls taking the stage or waiting self-consciously in the wings. As this suggests, for Stark the act of making and exhibiting her art is a kind of performance, one that involves a journey from the private realm of her thoughts, her studio and domestic life to the public realm of audiences, of the responses of others. For Stark, putting oneself on display is a process wracked with anxiety and self-doubt, leavened by occasional moments of creative exhilaration and pride. Her work is cut through by her distinctive wit and self-deprecating irony. But what of Frances Stark…? culminates on a particularly daring note: three operatic kimonos, which double-up as soft-sculpture of old-fashioned dial-up telephones.

Nottingham Contemporary has published a fully illustrated catalogue to accompany the exhibition, with essays by Mia Jankowicz, Francis McKee (Director, CCA) and Alex Farquharson (Director, Nottingham Contemporary).

A Nottingham Contemporary touring exhibition.