Review: Double Voyage
Anna Schwartz Gallery August 14 – September 6
I really enjoy going to Anna Schwartz gallery when the lights are out. The space is so cavernous and the shoes I was wearing last Friday created a satisfying click-clunk that echoed nicely as I walked back and forth between the two large projections that are Shaun Gladwell’s Double Voyage. The two works are not obviously linked in any way other than by the elegance of Gladwell’s formal aesthetic, one screen has a right-angled mirror to one side and shows a fixed camera shot of a girl pole dancing in a tasselled bikini. The motion is slowed and apart from a brief excerpt of sedated Beyonce at the beginning, she dances in silence. The centred composition has her jaded rhythmic convulsions framed by a quartet of brass poles with the bar behind her as the horizon line. In some ways this work is like the great grandchild of Manet’s A Bar at the Folies-Bergère. It has the same pathos and similarly puts the viewer in the customer position. At one point she leaves the club where she was dancing and a tracking shot follows her through an undistinguished modern building at night. The curved arcade she follows is deserted and though it seems as though it should be her going home for the night, she is incongruously still clad in pole dancing attire. The shot ends with her walking partly off the left edge of the screen and her half body is completed in the mirror as a human Rorschach. Though this last segment was entirely watchable, it didn’t seem as conceptually coherent as the bar scene, it seemed to serve as a coda for a narrative which wasn’t there to begin with.
The other screen shows an upside down tracking shot of a legless man skateboarding while standing on his hands. This double inversion gives the appearance of a man dangling as he clings to the moving board. At other times he skates seated and it all takes places in a sort of spacey concrete building. It could be a car park or it could be the Guggenheim space station. There are portentous rumblings of slowed ambient noise and this voyage has the mesmerising grace of the driving scene from Tarkovsky’s Solaris. Where is this place? Why is it deserted? Why is this world upside down? Why does he have no legs? The questions that remain unanswered give this vision it’s ominous resonance.
© Tony Lloyd 2008