3 DECEMBER 2009 - 6 FEBRUARY 2010
“ I am concerned with articulating the fragile relationship between vision and bodily experience; image and that which it depicts… What the viewer sees in ‘real’ space becomes disconnected from the illusory ‘unreal’ space of the multiple reflections resulting in destabilised pieces which confound their own physicality.” – Ruth Claxton
This will be the final installment of the touring solo show entitled ‘Lands End’ that started at the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham in the UK, and has since travelled to three further UK public galleries: the Oriel Davies Gallery, Powys; Spike Island, Bristol; and The Grundy Gallery, Blackpool. At each venue the sculptures are reconfigured into new scenarios that address the specific architectural details of each space. Thus Claxton sees her sculptures as constantly mutating and developing, just as the individual installations give the impression that a viral infection is mutating the space itself.
In her essay for the catalogue of the exhibition Sally O’Rielly writes:
“ In its adaptability to each gallery setting, Lands End might be thought of as modular, in the vein of mid-20th century design, when the need for permutations of furniture in a living space or dwellings in a landscape was indicative of a growing sense of cultural fluidity and relativism. Claxton’s installations imply just such an adjustable landscape, with the vertical structures standing in for buildings, the wall-mounted flurries of curves as clouds, or perhaps traces of an entity or technology that can pass through walls, and the occasional stick-like intrusions as freestanding shrubbery or growing on the architectural surfaces like irreverent ivy…”
The critic Barry Schwabsky writes in his review of the exhibition for Artforum magazine:
“ Claxton’s use of figurines recalls Rachel Harrison’s incorporation of ready-made figurative elements into otherwise non-representational agglomerations, while her masterful handling of the rhythms produced by multiplying small units is comparable to that of Sarah Sze. But her work is neither as funky and brutal as Harrison’s nor as delicate and airy as Sze’s. It is plainer and more clearly structured and yet finally more bewildering than the work typical of either of those sculptors.
“ As simple as the materials and underlying structure of Lands End may be, the fundamental subject is even simpler: the perennial problem of sculpture and base, which Minimalism was supposed to have finally dissolved. Having at first appeared to be the main body of Claxton’s sculpture, the framework of hoops and disks became, when one noticed the figurines, a concatenation of tables and pedestals; it then became clear that the figurines themselves, topped as they were with various baubles and gaudy assemblages, served as pedestals as well. A strange reversal of perspective was at play: The most imposing elements in the work turned to be mere supports for what, in another context would have been only bits of secondary detail.”
The exhibition title refers to a place, Land’s End, the westernmost point in the South of England, but Claxton has adapted this name so that it becomes, in her own words “an abstract extremity, rather than a geographical place.” As Schwabsky writes: ‘“Lands End” is a blunt statement of a possibly pessimistic sort: Shit happens, lands end. And yet this expansive, dizzyingly energetic work seems beguilingly endless.”
Ruth Claxton (b. 1971, UK. Lives and works in Birmingham, UK). Known Unknowns, curated by Jonathan Watkins, Gallery LOOP, Korea (2009); Lands End, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham and tour (2008-2009); ‘Fantopia – A state of impossible perfection. Or, how to live with perfect people (and not kill them)’, Mothers Tankstation, Dublin (2009); a solo exhibition of paper works The Barber Institute, Birmingham (2008); The Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh (2008); An Archaeology, Project Space 176 (2007); Self-Effaced: Ruth Claxton, Dave Miko, Geerten Verheus, FA Projects, London (2007); Strategic Questions, Venice, curated by Gavin Wade, 52nd Venice Biennale (2007); ‘A Place of Rainbows’, ARQUEBUSE (now Faye Fleming & Partner), Geneva (2006); I thought I was the Audience and then I looked at You, University Gallery, Colchester (2004). Ruth Claxton is represented by Faye Fleming & Partner, Geneva.