FormContent: It’s Moving from I to It at Eastside Projects, Birmingham

Tucked away in the far corner of Eastside Projects in a side-room is the exhibition It’s Moving from I to It. This exhibition is put on by the performance group FormContent, made up of Alejandro Cesarco, Goldin & Senneby, Douglas Gordon, Fitts & Holderness, Martin Gustavsson and Marine Hugonnier. The exhibition casts the viewer in the role of an investigator. Rather than forming a literal investigation, the exhibition has taken an existential stance on the topic. The gallery space forms an installation that mimics an evidence room allowing for the viewer to negotiate and disarm the pieces to a level they feel satisfactory. On a purely aesthetic level the works seemingly have no inherent connection and appear more as an intriguing eclectic mesh of different mediums. From the mesmerising abstract juxtaposition of Marine Hugonnier’s series of newspaper prints to the eerie silence and thought provoking monitor images of Fitts & Holderness this exhibition is nothing short of inspiring and memorable.

At once the viewer is given a text entitled A Story which consists of a narrative that makes the viewer question themselves within the space as well as creating the sense of becoming a subject and being watched. After negotiating the main gallery one has to go down a passage way obstructed by clear remnants of previous shows described as long term artist contributions to the gallery. Perhaps this is not the best impression as it can be seen that the gallery is focusing mainly on the exhibition taking place in main gallery and that the content of the second room is somewhat of a storage room. However the long term artist contributions do add a sense of character to the exhibition on behalf of the building rather than simply being a clinical expressionless environment. Along the corridor are Douglas Gordon’s Letters (2002), two frames with “I’m closer than you think” on one and “you’re closer than you know” on the other this gives off a surreal claustrophobic effect on the viewer enhanced by the narrowness and dark of the passage way. Upon entering the space one is greeted with an arsenal of different mediums sporting a wide variety of imagery and text. Adjacent to the viewer on the left is Marine Hugonnier’s Art For Modern Architecture (2004) a series seven mounted Herald Tribune front pages dating from November 29th to December 6th 2004. All the images and graphs that appear on these front pages have been replaced by brightly coloured sections separated into geometric minimal patterns. This series is very malleable as it doesn’t seem to have any major thematic overtones but can easily be read in to at the viewer’s discretion. For example does the removal of the initial images evoke a response from the viewer about media censorship? In this environment however does it take on the role of alluding to a time period?

At the far end of the room is Fitts & Holderness Operation Tully: A documentary (On the Undercover work And Disappearance Of Garth Mayhew) (2011) It consists of a table with two television monitors. On the screen of the left monitor flashes text alluding to his disappearance and quotes taken from the last known recordings of his voice. On the screen on the right is imagery to with the case and photographic evidence found in his abandoned van during the investigation. Next to the monitors is a soil testing kit, this is believed to have also been found in the van but the exact details as to why is a mystery. The police say he was not on an undercover operation at the time. This piece is excitingly dramatic and is the closest this exhibition gets to imitate a literal investigation. However, the lack of facts and silence in the room combined with the text and images provides a sobering chill to creep up ones spine. Its minimal content progressively looped can make one feel desensitized but the recurring curiosity of one’s mind to find out more, to actually be able to look it up is constant reminder that this was a very real event.

The eerie ambiance of this exhibition flirts delicately with the abrasive conflict found in the main gallery. The latter’s minimal approach is echoed in gest through the information provided to the viewer concerning the “investigation.” One will get out of the work what they are willing to put in, for one is simply left to their own devices to play up what the story actually is, or even if it exists at all. This makes this the ideal format for an interactive piece but also works as individual works of art. For this “investigation” by no means forced on the viewer but plays on their sense of curiosity, allowing the viewer to dive deep in to the depths of metaphysical without being overwhelmed by it. The work can be read simply at an aesthetic and technical level but also as a key element to this fabricated web of inquiry.

FormContent: It’s Moving from I to It, 26/05/2012 until 07/07/2012, Eastside Projects, 86 Heath Mill Lane, Birmingham, B9 4AR.

Text: William Davie

Related Posts
Caroline Achaintre, Sara Barker, Alice Channer (26/05/2012 until 28/07/2012) at Eastside Projects reviewed by William Davie.

1 & 2: Fitts & Holderness Operation Tully A Documentary (on the undercover work and disappearance of Garth Mayhew) (2011)
3. Goldin + Senneby I dispense, divide, assign, keep, hold (2012)
4. Caroline Achaintre (2012)
5. Marine Hugonnier, Art for Modern Architecture Herald Tribune, week Monday 29 November – Monday 6 December, 2004 (Homage to Ellsworth Kelly) (2005)Photography: Stuart Whipps

Courtesy Eastside Projects