FITZROVIA NOIR PRESENTS EXQUISITE DECAY

EQUISITE_DECAY_PART_TWO

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32 artists working with assemblage, graphics, paint, photography, sculpture and video showing in the evocative setting of a castle dating from the 13th Century, by the Roman town of Alba, in the Ardeche region of France, close to Montelimar

Désintégration Exquise' runs until May 23rd 2009, open every day.

Featured artists in Alba are:

Clare Adams_Hayley Ash_Danny Bird_Moira Blackwell
_Alexandra Buhl_Mim Burke_Graham Carrick_Russell
Clark_Lloyd Clater_Alessandra Chila_Linda Duffy_
Gen Doy_Pamela Furness_Hugh Gillan_Anne-Marie
Glasheen_Anna Gormley_Jane Henzell_John Hind_
Garry Hunter_Matthew Kolakowski_Ellis Leeper_
Robert Logan_Peter Mackertich_Eva Masterman_
Michael Mayhew_Adrian Parkes_John Perivolaris_
Kelly Pretty_Mary Renner_Paul Robinson_Manuel
Sanmartin_Nicolas Shah_Ansii Sojakka_Jonathan
Turner_Lucieta Williams_David Snoo Wilson

 EQUISITE_DECAY_PART_ONE

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Come see the Beauty of Rot and Wonder at what Delights Demise brings. 18 artists provide an alternative view of the forgotten, abandoned and lifeless. Finding beauty and poignancy in the overlooked, ignored or even swept away.

Fitzrovia Noir present
EXQUISITE DECAY
Curated by Graham Carrick

Private View 6pm till 9 pm
Thursday 07/09/08

Show runs 7th - 23rd 09/08
Open Thursday - Saturday
11am till 6pm or by appointment

Whitecross Gallery
122 Whitecross street
London
EC1Y 8PU
www.whitecrossgallery.com


 

EXQUISITE DECAY

Although it would be a great way for NASA to embarrass those who insist humans never travelled to the Moon, there is no telescope yet in existence (including Hubble) able to zoom in enough to see machinery on the lunar surface, never mind smaller items and boot prints left in their vacinities. But the understanding is that, short of invervention by asteroids, the likes of moon rovers and a polaroid of Charlie Duke's family, do and will remain perfectly preserved on the Moon, for us to focus on sometime in the future. When a powerful enough telescope becomes available, these objects will give a big finger to the erosion experienced by things in earth's atmosphere. Thus any Earthling artist making use of such a telescope would have to exhibit a different aesthetic to that found in this exhibition. There would still be grey shapes to frame and bleakness to capture. But decay would be as lacking as life.

Creationist fundamentalists believe that neither death nor decay occurred on Earth prior to the Fall sparked by Adam & Eve's sinfulness. In which case the pre-sinning Adam & Eve could never have been artists like those in this exhibition. Only their creationist belief is surely mistaken, because the bible says animals ate plants before the Fall. How could eating not have involved death, digestion and excretion? Think of how horribly bloated their non-functioning stomachs would have become. And without insects dying either, the staggeringly rapid reproductive rates of some insects would have meant the pre-sinning Adam & Eve living, within weeks, in an Eden so swarming with insects that it wouldn't have been paradise at all, plain awful. Setting up an easel, or even snapping a Polaroid, would have been virtually impossible. Adam & Eve would have been constantly flapping their arms around in the air, hopelessly swatting billions of immortal little things, or more likely waving their fists up at a God mistaken enough not to have conceived of fragility and death.

So it begins to make sense why artists would use the term 'exquisite decay' and why people, often wearing new pre-torn and stone-washed jeans, say seemingly oxymoronic things like 'We were just agreeing how wonderfully weathered your walls are, darling' and even 'The more lived in you look, the handsomer you seem to become - honestly'. There are some French people who can make the word déchéance sound like it's the most delightful thing in the world.

I'm still slightly confused as to why my mother encouraged me to pop in and say goodbye to her brother after he had died last year, him in a shockingly emaciated and cancerous dead state, but three of the reasons were possibly that she thought it was better than me not seeing him again, that some of his spirit remained, and that I would understand more about life and death from it. Still, I do sometimes think it  slightly perverse of her, and indeed slightly perverse of artists to relish imagery of decay. Then again, I see that in depicting or capturing something in a state of decay is to preserve it, or the memory of it, before it looks like nothing more than moondust; to acknowledge yet cock a snoop at the passage of time. Only humans are clever enough to do this; you don't see inanimate objects, or even other mammals, either sketching or taking Polaroids of things that are getting rough around the edges or are plain on their last legs. The official photographer who snapped scenes in post-liberated Belsen said he found himself instinctively framing corpses in interesting compositions. And even if that seems distasteful, it's surely more God's fault than his.

There remains the tricky issue, the double matter, of whether art focusing on decay should itself be allowed to decay. Should we play Gods with art? It's all very well cheerily kicking through crumbling autumn leaves, knowing more will spout come spring. But does letting a work of art fall apart forsake not only the thing depicted/captured in the art, but also the life, talent and individuality of the artist (even though there will be other artists around to replace him).

McKay Lodge Conservation of Ohio hold the contract for conserving federal and state sculptures in America and, as one example of their work, on the decision of a government appointed panel of experts (concerned by it's rusting, as well as graffiti sprayed on it), took apart a 14ft oudoor sculpture made out of cars by the artist John Chamberlain. The sculpture has since remained stored unseen, in pieces, in a Washington storage facility, awaiting forlornly for a government building inside which it can be reconstructed and displayed. The artist, John Chamberlain, nevertheless, 'didn't care' if it remained outdoors 'in the stream of time', or rather was desirous for it to remain there. He considered any raining upon it, rotting of it and graffiti-painting onto it as being part and parcel of what he'd intended. At least, if/when it is displayed indoors, he can take solace from the act that most damage to art is caused by the gases released by farting museum goers and the moisture carried in on their clothing and umbrellas.

For art truly neither to show nor suggest decay it would probably have to concentrate entirely on depicting scenes of people under 18 romping through fields in late springtime, nude and smiling delightedly, as if in Eden, or at least wearing moist revealing and clean clothing in a saucy, if unknowing, fashion. Although that would be lovely, it would probably not come anywhere near having the variety, intricacy, detailing, reality and sensibilities to be found in art concerned with decay.

With the art of decay you sort of get it all - pleasure and discomfort in tandem, the issues of life and death, hints of & reflections on what was and what will be, the discovery of beauty within the loss of 'beauty', a reduction in guilt over not decorating one's house so often, and other things that seem fairly pretentious when written down but work wonderfully within the world of imagery.

If a gallery is ever opened on the Moon, I imagine there would be no better, more challenging, exciting or subversive, art to display there.

WRITTEN BY JOHN HIND

FRENCH PRESS CLIPPINGS

French press ED