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International Enquirer exhibition view with If Invention Did Not Exist God Would Be Necessary, by Stuart Bastik, 2007 (centre)

International Enquirer, 2007

This exhibition celebrates artists who, in different ways, have decided to define their own path and create opportunities for themselves as well as for others – either other artists or wider and more diverse communities. It is to some extent a celebration of an irrepressible entrepreneurial spirit and the inventiveness embodied by artists.

“For some years now working in a place which is geographically and culturally outside of ‘the art world’ Art Gene has recognised that it is not really artists work which is important in a wider conception of society or humanity but rather their differentness or otherness – a refusal or inability to ‘fit in’.

The best ‘art’ is, I suggest, merely the most allowable manifestation of our true value – the by-product of lives lived on the fringes of societies:… we have failed to be comfortable – to different degrees. I contend therefore that in some very important sense the best artists are the least ‘successful’ ones – those most challenged and challenging.

It seems to me that society has ‘charged’ (albeit unknowingly) artists (amongst others) with carrying humanities survival mechanism. We are an essentially untapped ‘antibody’ which has been lying substantially dormant within society – This has I feel been felt variously as a slight irritation – a thorn in the side, our collective conscience – that niggling feeling that won’t go away – but we are also seen as the embodiment of freedom – albeit mostly misunderstood.

Freedom like power comes in a package with responsibility…”

Stuart Bastik, extract from Revisioning Utopia – From Yokohama with Love

 

Curated by artist Paul Moss as part of his curatorial residency at Art Gene, International Enquirer is an exhibition that brings together works by 16 artists from across the UK and Europe.

As an artist whose current activity extends to curating, directing a gallery, and art dealing Moss has selected works by artists who also refuse to restrict their practice to art making as a solitary act. These artists are interesting because they choose to develop wider projects and mechanisms including setting up galleries, magazines, collaborations, and critical writing which meaningfully extend their practice.

 

Artists
Stuart Bastik

On entering the gallery, Stuart Bastik directly confronts the viewer with his giant billboard, If Invention Did Not Exist God Would Be Necessary. Looking across the local landscape and literally bearing a cross on his back (albeit on a comfy-looking knitted cardigan), Bastik questions ideas of location (he could just as easily be looking across the hills from Jerusalem) and how artists make a difference wherever they are. His other work entitled Three Wishes is a collection of black bomb like objects arranged on the floor. Constructed from elaborate candle sticks holders they are found objects transformed to carry far more sinister connotations.

Ralf Broeg

Ralf Broeg’s slick framed prints from his ongoing Isolationen series are both history and newness in one. Each work contains the ghost of a famous artwork within which a solitary, carefully selected area is revealed and in some cases manipulated to create a new layer. This process takes a careful look at how artists work both with and against the ever-expanding history of art to create new images and new meanings.
Ralf Broeg and Petra Rinck are directors of SITE Gallery and Magazine in Düsseldorf.

 

JJ Charlesworth & Alasdair Duncan

JJ Charlesworth and Alisdair Duncan also engage in serious play. Their installation Outside World Problem Playspace # 1 makes direct reference to El Lissitzky’s famous constructivist work Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge, their reworking providing a backdrop to a series of participatory ‘places’ and ‘constructions’ that question our ability to view and re-consider the power of controversial symbols and imagery in art and in turn arts ability to function as platform for political and social change.
JJ Charlesworth and Alasdair Duncan are a critic/artist collaboration from London.

 

Kim Coleman & Jenny Hogarth

Kim Coleman and Jenny Hogarth’s collaborative Power Point presentation Tor Di’fference is an apparently lighter exploration of form in relation to meaning. A hypnotic electro soundtrack plays alongside a sequence of slides located around the Scottish Ski resort of Glenn Coe. Each frame is quickly filled and animated with shapes of flat colour again echoing constructivist graphics as well as referencing the language of the influential electronic band Kraftwerk and their work Tour de France.
Kim Coleman and Jenny Hogarth are both founding committee members of Embassy Gallery in Edinburgh.

Stuart Edmundson

Stuart Edmundson is an artist who is interested by light and material. As with many artists who now work predominantly with found or readymade objects his background is in abstract painting. His sculptural installation Untitled # 76 has an element of slapstick. A structure apparently thrown together from bits of Perspex, timber, light fittings, and blue gaffer tape seems stuck. With it’s leg in a brown paper bag, the artwork is unable to move across the floor and is resigned to slumping in the corner leaving us wondering, amongst other things, who “Ben Kweller” was. As a counterpoint Edmundson’s Proposal # 72 give us all the information we need to imagine a fantastic high-tech but imaginary artwork.
Magnus Quaife and Stuart Edmundson curate the BMCA (Blackpool Museum of Contemporary Art).

Finola Jones

Finola Jones is another artist that leaves us to fill in the blanks. Her ongoing video installation series Fragments From the Narrative Sentence is constructed differently every time it is exhibited based on the gallery or curators ability to source or provide equipment in advance. Jones then edits her archive of fixed camera footage to fit with the situation providing a flexible and unpredictable work that challenges artists’ relationships with galleries and curators alike.
Finola Jones runs the commercial gallery Mother’s Tankstation in Dublin. 

Image gallery below:
Outside World Problem Playspace # 1, by JJ Charlesworth & Alasdair Duncan,  2006
Outside World Problem Playspace # 1 (Detail), JJ Charlesworth & Alasdair Duncan, 2006
If Invention Did Not Exist God Would Be Necessary, by Stuart Bastik, 2007

 

Paul Moss

Paul Moss presents us with a Danger Painting, made through the meticulous process of continuously wrapping non-adhesive hazard tape around a frame, the work explores the material’s ability to signal both warning and institutionalised incompetence whilst transforming it into an object that employs the languages of painting and architecture. Architecture and illusion are again the subject in his sculpture, The Possibilities are Endless, an ambiguous skewed shape constructed from MDF and Formica Laminate.
Paul Moss and Miles Thurlow are co-directors of Workplace Gallery in Gateshead.

 

Maddi Nicholson

Maddi Nicholson’s, Salome’s Feast is an installation work comprising of three giant male heads made from resin that looks like chocolate. Inserted into the base of each head is an equally giant lollipop stick that prop the heads as gargoyles each casting a stern eye over the whole exhibition. The men are styled after the head of a tractor driver from a 60’s toy. They carry the authority and mystery surrounding images of men from that era and look dangerous despite their chocolaty appearance. Nicholson’s has also collaborated with Stuart Bastik on A Little Bit of What You Fancy Does You Good, in which a video of a teacup continually filling up with tea followed by sugar until it overflows is played through an old TV attached to a giant helium balloon providing an intriguing tension between nostalgia and progress.
Stuart Bastik and Maddi Nicholson are both artist/co-founder Directors of Art Gene, Barrow-in-Furness.

Magnus Quaife

Magnus Quaife’s work also looks to history, most often art history. Sterling Board is a giant watercolour portrait of its namesake that reminds us of American abstract painters like Robert Ryman in its monochrome simplicity. His photograph, Untitled (The Painter in his Studio) looks directly at the artists own past, the image show’s Quaife ‘in action’ as an art student over ten years ago. His painting Jessica Stockholder is a still life painting of the cover of a Phaidon artists monograph of the influential Canadian installation artist, part of the series of books that seem in some way mark an artists ‘arrival’ in the current melting pot of contemporary art.
Magnus Quaife and Stuart Edmundson curate the BMCA (Blackpool Museum of Contemporary Art).

Petra Rinck

Petra Rinck’s, Untitled (Chandelier) is a cluster of four light works which are somewhere between Habitat cool and contemporary art. They play with form and function, the wires providing both the pattern and power for the work. The light bulbs being so low watt that they provide only decorative lighting within the exhibition.
Ralf Broeg and Petra Rinck are directors of SITE Gallery and Magazine in Düsseldorf.

Helen Smith

Helen Smith is a painter in the romantic tradition. She cares for the material, constructing delicate surfaces by applying paper onto canvas in order to support her subtle mark making. Her subjects require equally close scrutiny. Strange silhouettes of hybrid bird-fighter planes scatter the surfaces, their simplicity almost hiding the seriousness of her imagery.
Helen Smith is the director of Waygood Gallery and Studios in Newcastle upon Tyne.

Michael Stumpf

Michael Stumpf’s works are a “collision of nature and culture and a contemporary affinity for day-to-day materials”.

Cluster/Wichtelwelt (Goblin World) hangs by chain from a gallery beam like a strange giant gothic necklace. The assemblage includes cast rock like objects, a series of silver and gold letters, and a big black mushroom asking us to speculate about the artist’s interests in relation to their selection. The work is splattered with silver paint that along with the dense black colour of the central structure unifies the collection into a timeless relic.
Michael Stumpf is currently a committee member of Transmission Gallery in Glasgow.

 

Miles Thurlow

Miles Thurlow bisects the gallery and exhibition with Wall, a giant modular structure made from the discarded bookshop shelves from The Baltic Centre of Contemporary Art in Gateshead, North East England. Thurlow has added to their story by first smashing the shelving into pieces and then in a similarly absurd act reconstructing them using No More Nails adhesive. Like many of Thurlow’s works, Wall is as much about process as it is product. A complex procedure of careful selection and repositioning asks pertinent questions of our cultural establishments and their relationship to artists.
Paul Moss and Miles Thurlow are co-directors of Workplace Gallery in Gateshead.

Gavin Wade

Gavin Wade is an artist who operates between disciplines. Fitness Chart # 3 is somewhere between design, art, and architecture. The wall drawing spans three walls of the gallery and plots art against government over time (both past, present, and future). Specifically designed with the gallery, the exhibition concept, Art Gene, and Barrow-in-Furness in mind the graph points to an optimistic future for art in an age where somehow in the near future government dies.
Gavin Wade is an artist and curator based in Birmingham.

 

External Links

Ralf Broeg 
JJ Charlesworth 
Alasdair Duncan 
Kim Coleman & Jenny Hogarth 
Stuart Edmundson 
Finola Jones 
Paul Moss 
Magnus Quaife
Petra Rinck 
Helen Smith
Michael Stumpf 
Miles Thurlow 

 

 

Image gallery below:
Jessica Stockholder, by Magnus Quaife, 2005
Salome’s Feast, by Maddi Nicholson,1999 – 2006
Cluster/Wichtelwelt (Goblin World), by Michael Stumpf, 2006, Untitled (Chandelier) by Petra Rinck, 2003/6, Danger Painting, by Paul Moss, 2003/6
International Enquirer Opening
Images below (footer):
Three Wishes, by Stuart Bastik, 2006
School workshop with Maddi Nicholson