Following his recent Locked Room Scenario (2011), an exhibition in which the only room that could not be entered was the room of the (admittedly anecdotal) exhibition, Ryan Gander has continued to pursue a model that does not require the art itself to be present. His current show at Lisson Gallery, The Fallout of Living, takes as its theme the notion of art and artist becoming inextricable, the moment in which an artist no longer quite knows how to separate their work from their life.
It is, therefore, surprising that upon entering the gallery, the first piece you encounter is an extroverted work. Visible from the road, through the front window of the gallery, is a huge ball (275cm diameter) formed from a cluster of indistinct stainless steel objects. The sculpture is reminiscent of an Anish Kapoor exhibition in which one of Kapoor’s great reflective dishes was positioned here, reflecting out upon the viewer. Entering the gallery space proper, the ball’s function becomes more apparent. Entitled More really shiny things that don’t mean anything (2012), the sphere looms in the doorway of the ground floor gallery, blocking the viewer from entering. Gander’s placement is indicative of an ideology of “it’s not really worth spending that much time with”. A slight on the pristine, pleasing sculptures that the gallery often uses the space for.
The next gallery space takes on a more expected aesthetic. Four Perspex templates are hung on the gallery walls. Each template bears a series of rectangular cut outs which, aided by a small Perspex key, provides narrative evidence of the conceptual making of the exhibition. The shapes removed from the Perspex are indicative of photographs, news cuttings, tickets, and drawings, each a necessary reference to the process of the exhibition’s creation. One such entry reads: 203. A colour photograph print measuring 25x20cm showing an overview of a photo shoot of the artist’s daughter, Olivia May Gander, mimicking the shape of a ghost with the use of a white bed sheet. Gander playfully alludes to the work in the gallery space, but with the actual evidence missing, the game is left with the viewer.
The work referred to in the statement is Tell my mother not to worry (ii) (2012). Cut from marble, the piece appears a small white mass draped in fabric. Following Gander’s clues, it becomes apparent that the piece replicates the form of a small child under a bed sheet. The image is not self-evident if you aren’t looking for it. A childhood den accompanies the piece, I Is…(I) (2012), the marble of the sculpture again emulating a drooping white sheet.
Two other sculptures in the gallery are carved from wood. Unlike their marble counterparts, these appear unfinished, the wood still rough and marked around the base of the works. The surface of a stool arises from one partially sculpted block, The way things collide (macaron, meet stool) (2012). The uniformity of the wood is highlighted, its dimensions matched by those of the plinth, the sculpture’s base appears a continuation of the plinth surface. Standing delicately atop the stool is a small macaron. Carved from the same piece of wood, it remains attached. These two distinct objects, amalgamated by the process of carving, contain a forced association; conceived and created to be inseparable.
Upstairs is The Best Club (2011), an imaginary screening room implied by a set of blackout curtains and a plaque, Investigation # 64 – Phenomenomenomenomenology (2012), two additional light switches behind the gallery desk labelled as “guns” and “bombs” with Dymo tape, and Kodak Courage (2012) an oak vitrine fitted with glass windows that turn opaque at the moment a spectator enters the room. From a distance the object inside seems insubstantial, it is only the inbuilt safety mechanism that gives the impression of significance.
Gander’s exhibition without content provides a game in which everything is coded and implied, but not truly present; an inference in this case, is enough to create presence. The draped white sheets appear at first like museum dust covers, this is revealed as a visual system, a play on the gallery location, their real origin much more closely related to the artist’s personal considerations. Gander taps into pre-existent visual and linguistic codes to create dual poles, a specific narrative concealed within a recognised formal construct. The result is an exhibition whose real existence is less reliant on its physical substance than its anecdotal one.
Ryan Gander: Fallout of Living at Lisson Gallery, 11/07/2012 – 25/08/2012, 54 Bell Street, London, NW1 5DA. www.lissongallery.com
1. Ryan Gander I is… (I) (2012)
2.Ryan Gander Tell my mother not to worry (ii) (2012)
3. Ryan Gander The way things collide (condom, meet USM cabinet) (2012)
Mixed media (carved beech)
All images courtesy the artist and Lisson Gallery
Text: Travis Riley