Chelsea College of Art and Design MA Exhibition, 2009

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Chelsea College of Art and Design Masters Exhibition 2009
September 3-7

A lot of work for a four-day exhibition; though no doubt, much of it will be shown again. According to Chelsea's press: "The MA Show celebrates the work by graduating students from MA Fine Art, MA Textile Design, MA Graphic Design Communication, MA Interior and Spatial Design and MA Critical Writing and Curatorial Practice." A nice way to put it.

True: the show was uneven, as most group shows are wont to be.
Were there particular themes of note? A few...

  • Ethnic poetic aesthetics (a mouthful) were present and accounted for, manifest as issue-based work often concerned with territorial conflict and/or social injustices.
  • Contributions from Critical Writing and Curatorial Practice surprised me a little. I expected more reflexivity in the work--more internal awareness of its operations as curation and not art. Sure, these areas overlap...though where exactly...this work didn't seem to know. But does that matter? Or is this distinction present and I lack the literacy to grasp it?
  • Where was the photography? Did I miss it? Not too many series; not too many discrete images...This kind of imaging was often insinuated in text or other types of work.

Art and Design Works of Distinction:

  • Romela Crnogorac's stop-motion animation of two barbecued ducks (or are they geese?) getting it on while wearing gloves is nothing short of brilliant. As the birds' passion grows, they literally tear each other apart. Quirky, smart and v. well made, Crnogorac's video shows a real knack for meshing sound and image.You can find another of Crnogorac's animations by following this link.
  • Luke Drozd's sculptural installation was marvelously reassuring. A combination of pop and poetic, it reminded me of friends' work I love--the efforts of Eli Bornowsky, Gareth Moore and others who put pleasant coloured stuff (often ceramics) on the floor. There's an ilk of artists working in this way. Drozd's art is a little more pop than poetic by comparison--closer to the work of Assume Vivid Astro Focus in some ways but not all. Even more charming is Drozd's entry for Chelsea's online catalogue. It describes the artist's relationship to a slide of a cat and, by extension, to the twilight technology of film photography. The work moves you--turns you upside down. A real find.
  • Ian Skedd's video installation is also good but in a different way. A Vancouver native, we move in the same circles back "home" and I'm familiar with his oeuvre. Showing the influence of Rodney Graham's passion for theatre, slapstick and fastidious production, Skedd's video installation (the title escapes me) is 03:30 of... pure anticipation. If this piece is little too secure in it own resolution (that is, how well it resolves as a work of art), it's nevertheless a pleasure to behold.
  • I must be feeling homesick for the West Coast, as Michael Lawton's paintings also appealed to me, in part because they recall Vancouver-based artist Etienne Zack's old work. Paintings of maquettes (just keep they away from the real thing), Lawton's images engage with the provisional and tentative through well honed visual language. This is good and honest art...the kind of work I'd enjoy hanging in my home.

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Luke Drozd's Formance, 2009