Do 2010’s graduates agitate and excite? Would they still be asking questions about where the art ends and a pile of crushed Sol beer boxes surrounding the trestle table bars begin? Modern art cynics and theory-refuseniks would have loved Newcastle University’s Emily Willis’ used ash tray installation, not to mention the graduate that found a quiet moment to deface the old Brewery sign ‘Beware Fork Lift Trucks at Work’ to warn of ‘Fucks At Work’.
In fact, just one week of Free Range offered up an astonishing super-abundance of fantastic creativity, too much to properly consume in a two hour sitting. On show were MA Image and Communication students from Goldsmiths, photography students from Edinburgh Napier University and Edinburgh College of Art, Interdisciplinary Design from UWE and more art from the Universities of Northampton, Bathspa, Portsmouth and Batley.
22-year-old graduate of Goldsmith’s MA and Communication MA Philipp Morozov was born in the USSR. He contributed an impressively realised short film called ‘Luria’ that riffed on the cyberpunk novels of William Gibson.
Morozov original plan was to film Gibson’s short story Burning Chrome – the place the author first coined the term ‘cyberspace’. The rights to the story had already been bought in anticipation of Hollywood snapping it up so Morozov had to write his own story. He named his tale after Alexander Romanovich Luria, a Soviet neuropsychologist that worked with damaged soldiers in WWII.
Darkly lit with impressive looking near-future computer gizmos and gadgets, the story is like Gibson internalised and re-imagined, while visually it drew from Speilberg’s Minority Report or Mamoru Ishi’s Manga classic Ghost In The Shell. Amazingly, Morozov laboriously created its slick look on nothing more powerful that the Goldsmith college computer using the After Effects software and two months worth of patience. A short film presented as an installation out of necessity for the event, Morozov’s film would look spectacular in a cinema.
Other fine artists also explored dystopic themes, Marjolijn Dijkman’s 2007 video installation Wandering Through The Future was an hour-long compilation of Hollywood’s future visions from Waterworld to The Matrix.
In a space that bustles like Topshop on a Saturday, the temptation is to keep browsing if something doesn’t speak to you immediately. The photo and object collages of Nadeem Dudhia stopped people in their tracks.
Dudhia’s work is influenced by the cultural criticism of Barbara Creed, the University of Melbourne’s Professor of Cinema studies and her 1993 book The Monstrous-Feminine. His most successful collage You And I (And I Thought We Were The Same) is a large black and white picture of what could be a 1950s housewife that has a shock of real feathers instead of a face.
It resonates with calling women ‘birds’. It’s also beautiful and suggestive of an animal-self bubbling under the social identities presented within family snaps. “The thought behind the work aimed to highlight the lack of knowledge we have about the images that are supposed to represent our history”, says Dudhia. “Memory, displacement and denial are all factors that are being addressed by the work- the fact that traditional snapshot images transpose a reality that may not be entirely true upon us.”
Gill Greenhough, a sculptor from the Bately School of Art And Design also impressed me with her work. In the low light of the Brewery she laid out medical looking assemblages of tubes connecting various shaped containers of a clear liquid with smoke passing between the tubes and gently escaping out of the water. Lit with clinical blue lights it was beautiful and meditative like a Japanese garden, as well as suggesting hospital equipment. Her installation was called 21 Grams after Duncan MacDougall’s 1907 experiment that famously worked out the weight of the human soul to the exact gram. “The materials possess a duality appropriate to themes of the ephemeral and the eternal”, explains Greenhough. “The use of vapour within the work suggests liminality, a transitional passage between alternative states. A sense of ritual and transience permeate the work.”
These graduates are entering an art decade that is there to be defined. Maybe someone showing here will do that.