Lilac City Studio: Joe Wilson and Chanelle Collier.
November 17 - 21st. 2016
The show attempts to draw attention to the roles of the gallery, viewer and artwork in their “normal” or expected contexts by disrupting the way they interact. Uniform is about the way context and representation influences communication and understanding.
The presentation of the work requires the viewer to participate in the creation and transformation of it as a whole, by temporarily exchanging their clothes for wearable artworks and thus becoming involved in the physical apparatus and appearance of the work to necessarily influence where, how and to whom it communicates.
Through this act the artist becomes responsible for the safe keeping of the participant’s dress/garb, and they in turn become responsible for the artwork. This delivery of the work provides an opportunity for play within notions of labour and identity inherent in the production and display of artwork, by deliberately allowing for the trading or combining of one form of labour and identity with another, and the passing of responsibility between traditional roles.
The wearable artworks, uniforms, are paired with wall hanging works, soft paintings, which aim to maintain a link to the gallery wall as the traditional site of art and also to one another through visual similarity. Both parts of the set are made from the same cloth hung loosely on their structural support. One is firmly attached to the gallery wall, while the other is free to move away from it.
As the participant moves beyond the zone of the gallery, straining their tie, an avenue is provided for the work to be shared in wider contexts beyond the artists’ anticipation and agency. By the time the show draws to a close everything is returned to its original place, but, hopefully, it has been transformed in the transition.
Install Photography: Sam Stephenson
Black & White Event Photography: Robin Hearfield
Special thanks to Chris Baldwin, Joucelen Gabriel, Robin Hearfield
list of works
Soft Painting (1 – 8), 2016. Canvas, Timber. 50 x 50cm
Uniform (1 – 8), 2016. Canvas. Large fit.
Garment Bag (1 – 8), 2016. Canvas. 60 x 105cm
Posters (1 – 3), 2016. Officeworks Poster Print A0 A1
Studies (1 – 8), 2016. Various
Book 1, B&W print. Book 2, Colour print
A0 posters 1, 2, & 3
Review by Kent Johnson
Posters riffing on the ideographs of an IKEA instruction sheet. White plinths topped with packaged canvas boiler suits in clear plastic bags - complete with suffocation warnings - in a variety of languages. A logo, no it must be another art work, the word Uniform over a line drawing of a Unicorns head.. it all feels astonishingly familiar. Of course there are people milling around as one would expect at an art opening.
Some small square canvases on the wall, just canvas.. It has the feeling of a minimally decorated On-Trend Fashion showroom launch. As one moves deeper into the space - looking for the opening night bar - there is a white clothing rack, white table, a white curtained change room; and someone to help you to UNIFORM. It's artist Chanelle Collier, quite naturally wearing fashion's favourite colour.. black. The clothes rack is mostly empty, there are Logo'd canvas suit-bags folded on the table; waiting.. for the clothing of anyone who changes from their clothes into the Uniform for the next 24 hours, becoming part of the art.
The show is titled UNIFORM and uniform is the artwork, the logo, the leitmotif. The word Uniform above a simple line drawing of a Unicorn's head says it all; well maybe not quite all. It does however do exactly what a Logo is supposed to do, create an immediate visual connection with the Brands Identity art as you move into this multi layered installation and performative art work.
Decoration over substance, conformity over vision, the gallery as temple, the artist as seer, machine made, hand made, is it possible to be Uniform and Unicorn at the same time?
This is one of the first exhibitions I have seen in quite a while where I didn't find myself wondering if the work might not possibly be a triumph of technique and style (top shelf decoration) over creative vision and substance. So while I suppose everyone who did choose to wear a boiler suit for 24 hours is most likely on their way to Masters degree in Art; making the process a bit of an inside job. That certainly does nothing to undermine that this show asks real questions of what art is and what it means to be an artist; and covers a lot more VERY unpopular creative ground. Really, when was the last time you saw art that challenged you to think about what is going with the world, with life, and how that fits with art? Uniform addressed a lot of ideas (mostly with a sense of fun and wit) that I have only very sketchily scratched the surface of here.