William Hunt


29 Friday 29th January 2010

William Hunt's latest exhibition with IBID Projects Gallery is a quietly absurd affair. This is a surreal and varied exhibition that will baffle and delight in equal measure.

William Hunt was born in London in 1977 and graduated from Goldsmiths College in 2005. His work often involves performance art where he plays acoustic music under extreme physical conditions, be it playing the guitar upside-down while suspended four metres in the air or lowering himself into an old flooded car to sing underwater. It is weird, awkward and confusing, yet at the same time emotional, open and admirable.

In this exhibition Hunt fuses forms of art, using sculptures as a base for performing music and sounds. The gallery includes two parts; one is a set of four microphone racks, which Hunt has cast his own face onto, forming a mystical, skull-like shape each with a pair of earphones placed on the inside. Through the earphones the viewer can hear recordings of Hunt's own voice taken while he was making the casts, panting and breathing heavily into the microphone. It sounded like the whole process was a tiring affair. The dimmed lights and skeletal sculptures make the scene feel almost eerie, and combined with the deep and at times growling sound of Hunt's voice this part of the exhibition verges on abstract expressionism (with self-proclaimed reference to Robert Morris's 1960s sculptures).

In another corner is a strange device, which works as the stage for Hunt's actual live performance. An old machine has been covered in metal and canvas, fitted with a horizontal screen and installed in the wall with a narrow hole going out to the room next door. Hunt places himself in the hole with an accordion (an instrument he says had simply been laying around his studio and was one of the few instruments that was able to actually fit the tiny space), and belts out a seemingly random and improvised array of folk-like samples mixed, again, with the sounds of his exhaustion. The tiny cave-like room is equipped with cameras projecting a picture of the artist's face onto the screen in negative so, blurring the boundaries between live act and a recorded moving image.

Viewers take their place in front of the screen to see what can at first glance seem like a comical yet slightly tragic video clip, not realising the artist is actually just beneath them inside the container. By doing this, Hunt challenges the viewers believed perception, something that has been a central element to many of his previous works. The duration of his physical strain wakes thoughts of self-torture, although the artist himself says the duration is just a solution to an issue of time, the only way to let every viewer see what he is doing.

Both pieces, connected or not in whatever way they might be, share the same possibilty for the viewer to get close, even personal, with the artist. However, there is an inevitable distance created by the nature of the items used; the sculptures with the audio clips puts the viewer in the artist's position, but at a later stage, creating a delayed but nonetheless very real look in the process of the casting. As for the performance, the artist is clearly there playing live, but the inverted screen and blurred picture makes it hard to connect to the actual physical challenge the artist is going through. Hunt creates a confusion between then and now and between the real and the surreal, in a way that is at times straightforward, at times hard to grasp, and at times even a bit chilling.

William Hunt is on at IBID Projects, 21 Vyner Street, until 3 May.

Don't Panic attempt to credit photographers and content owners wherever possible, however due to the sheer size and nature of the internet this is sometimes impractical or impossible. If you see any images on our site which you believe belong to yourself or another and we have incorrectly used it please let us know at panic@dontpaniconline.com and we will respond asap.