Art & Development, Community, Travelogue

new manc art highlights

Islington Mill Studios; hallway.

Islington Mill Studios; hallway.

The Dilemma of Archive
New library
Islington Mill

Islington Mill is a really cool artist-initiated studio compound with a gallery, performance venue, experimental school, and now, a new library focusing on art books. I find the whole idea of the place very grassroots, appealing and innovative.

detail of installation by Maurice Carlin

detail of installation by Maurice Carlin


detail of installation by Maurice Carlin

detail of installation by Maurice Carlin

Last night, I attended the opening of The Dilemma of Archive, a show featuring the work of Maurice Carlin and G. Leddington. The exhibition space is a disused studio — about the size of a bedroom, maybe 15×12 feet. But the modest space held a really tight grouping of four works, which were peculiar and quiet and rewarded sustained attention.

Slide show/installation by G. Leddington at Islington Mill

Slide show/installation by G. Leddington at Islington Mill

I really liked G. Leddington’s slide show of a turning carosel box, which reminded me of the work of Anne Collier and Tacita Dean. But Leddington’s accompanying works — photo prints of obscure articles, book plates and photos relating to Henri Michaux, art collector/smuggler swung the content away from the project of photography and back towards the archive.

My contribution to the new library.

My contribution to the new library.

The curatorial statement is quite smart, pointing out the paradoxes inherent in any archive — exhibitions, art collections or libraries. I really liked the high conceptual quality and grassroots venue partnered with the new library initiative. I keep telling people that Manchester is a cool city, and if they can look past the binge drinking and American-style malls, they’d see the local points of vibrance like Islington Mills.

Gregor Schneider‘s Kinderzimmer
Subversive Spaces
Whitworth Art Museum

I couldn’t be bothered to see this pitch-black, one-viewer-at-a-time installation — the wait times were always long, but today, by happenstance, I was able to get in after a brief 10-minute wait.

I won’t spoil what’s inside for those who yet to see it, but I will say this:

I found it extremely effective. It was emotional — the darkness was so complete it was terrifying, and upon exiting, my sense of relief gave way to a curious ecstasy. It was provocative and I experienced a sense of convergence between:

  • Dan Graham’s interest in the just-past
  • In Claire Bishop’s Installation Art: A Critical History (Tate 2005) darkness and the dissolution of self…
  • …and how Kinderzimmer manages to include pure phenomenology, mimesis and representation
  • how Schneider exploited the flaws in human hardware
  • how the installation achieved high aspirations in spite of the humble materials
  • grief and existential subjectivity
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