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Enclave Gallery & Guest Projects | NO MANICHINO | Francis Thorburn

Sep 10, 2012

September 1 – 29, 2012
Preview Friday August 31, 6-9pm + afterparty
Open Friday and Saturday 12-6pm and by appointment.

Enclave is delighted to present the first solo show in the main gallery and project space by London-based artist Francis Thorburn.

Thorburn first came to prominence with his dramatic street performances, processions involving a series of vehicles literally moved with man power. These contraptions, with their eco-inventor-dragster connotations, are anarchist statements of resistance and action. Often organised without permission, Thorburn’s flotillas of excess are typically powered by semi-naked fellow male artist friends – a relationship that is on one side the ego writ large and on another a giving over – a sacrifice – to the group, with the group, to the communal act that is absurdist but more importantly, poignant. The result is a theatre and one that is curiously religious – a performance act that draws on laddish exploitation transforming it into the devout. In this art form there is a fine line between spectacle and protest, between antagonism and actual freedom, and it is to Thorburn’s testament that he achieves such empowering acts of fleeting, shamanistic beauty.
What does it take for a group of men to agree to strip down and to drag, pull, push, slide and carry, with a degree of discomfort, shame, rowdiness and bravura? and this, not in a film, but on the contemporary streets of Peckham, Scotland or Poland. In essence it is a belief structure that motivates, one channelled by the artist, a response to a lack lustre contemporaneity, a response to the high street, a lack of camaraderie. It is pub banter transformed into epic participation. It is the spirit of the riots. It is the stuff of momentum. It is the artist at work.
For this exhibition Thorburn enacts a more private and solemn ritual. He is carried in a suit on a heavy raft of sharp sticks and poles. It is an upside-down crucifixion where he gives himself up for our shopping street sins. This exhibition has no live performance as instead he wants the viewer to engage with the sculpture, with the documentary film, with the totemic spoilings and relics of the act in the museum. And it is in the museum where these works belong just as much as on the street. Thorburn’s stunning sculptures are a revelation, they are vehicles made with a craftsman’s skill and with a sincerity that will surprise. They are taken out onto the street with a rare passion and lack of irony which, whilst somehow eccentrically and madly British, are more aligned to a European history and spirit of action, that of Beuys and Meese perhaps with a hint Viennese actionism.

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