Private view: Friday 31st January 2014, 6.30 to 9pm. Exhibition runs to 2nd March 2014
news of the world: Sean Steadman, Jackie Raynal, Trenton Oldfield
In the war against the Giants, the satyrs went into battle riding on donkeys. As they caught sight of the enemy, the asses were so terrified that they all let out a loud braying such as the Giants had never heard. At the noise, the Giants hastily took flight and thus were defeated by the satyrs on asses.
This of course never happened.
The works in the exhibition ostensibly provide the metadata necessary to weave similarly epic poems and mythical journeys: they feature central characters, antagonists, create context, setting a theatrical scene, using many narrative conventions familiar to our personal browsers.
Sean Steadman’s painting series feature a satyr-like character in constructed mythological landscapes and on the cusp of action. Jackie Raynal’s film Deux Fois starts with a short description of all the chapters we are about to see, the bard’s invocation before the retelling of an epic. Trenton Oldfield’s diving suit points to the armoured relic of a protagonist damned by the Greek chorus of elders in his moral quest. The paintings, the film and object introduce us in media res -in the midst of things- to a tableaux of deeds to be performed, adversaries defeated, and on, towards a satisfactory conclusion.
This of course never happens.
For whilst we stand ready to provide the correlations and associations which would synthesise the story, the narrative has in fact been left off-frame.
In his figurative portrayal of something which does not exist, amongst stylised props and geometrical shapes which our mind readily accepts as nature, Steadman’s paintings focus on the methods, rules and techniques of representation. In Deux Fois, the image is dislocated from the sound, the long takes, travelling shots, repetitions of scenes, the repetition of scenes, improvisation of gestures, the lingering of the recording, the uncomfortable focus on the camera itself (the mirror scene)- and by proxy the viewer-, all dissect the process of constructing the film.
Evacuated of narrative, the tools by which stories would be represented become our own to wield.
And what happens next?
Then, the satyrs rode home, and story-telling flared up around the art world like a nasty rash, barely masking the tired, tried and tested use of medium and supports, the dull continuum of traditional narratives, the conformist nod to the political tedium du jour and the reassertion of the decorum.
I never really went for the stories.
It’s the moments I remember.