John Hurrell – 14 February, 2011
With all this et al. shows considerable invention blending drawing with anti-writing and film-making. For example putty is applied to a pencil-tip pointer to be an eraser as well as inscriber, lumpy vegetable-like forms signal organic growth and apparent nihilism, and there's even a use of Claymation where Nick Park merges with say Dieter Roth.
10 February 2011 - 19 March 2011
Michael Lett’s brand new venue gets ‘warmed up’ with this new exhibition by et al., an intermediary stage before the space gets properly ‘gallerified’ and made ‘white-cubescent’. Oddly the show has a basement feel even though the stud is actually quite high. Perhaps this is due to the fact that you enter from Great North Road by going down some narrow concrete steps, that the ambience is dark and there is the characteristically debilitating presence of ‘et al. grey’ walls. Swirling, muffled and scraping sound dominates in this experience, with hidden speakers positioned within radiating lines of spindly legged, metal tables that vibrate underneath their sombre softly coloured tops.
The omnipresent industrial sound mixes an approach to aural sensation that et al. perfected in simultaneous invalidations; second attempt (2001) with some of the overhead projector methods lampooning authorative lecture-giving in that’s obvious! that’s right! that’s true! (2009). There is a tall, isolated hardboard lined room for presenting a projected film and emitting laptop, and in a far illuminated corner of the outer bigger space is a ‘village’ of house-like boxes, alluding to Middle-eastern ‘terrorist’ themes as well as religious systems like monadism.
et al. uses drawn language to destroy thought, to shred the subject’s attempts at ‘mentalese’, the inner working language of interiority. It here is not spoken but achieved by rapidly fired, scrambled scribbled phrases which are chopped up or partially blocked by the edges of the screen. Carefully crafted inarticulation dominates. A series of stuttering visual grunts blended into half phrases, some of which declare their purpose, such as ‘I wedge into empty space’. In this sculpture there is an Artaudian hostility towards language as something body-based, it being perhaps as William Burroughs regularly said, a virus.
With all this et al. shows considerable invention blending drawing with anti-writing and film-making. For example putty is applied to a pencil-tip pointer to be an eraser as well as inscriber, lumpy vegetable-like forms signal organic growth and apparent nihilism, and there’s even a use of Claymation where Nick Park merges with say Dieter Roth. With this prolonged assault on language, an avoidance of any consistent likelihood of articulated meaning, the only pattern seems to be a love of motion as a means of perpetuating ambiguity: motion in edited juxtapositions or flickering overlayed texts; motion in rattling droning sound that shifts its location; motion in changing positions of radiated or reflected light within the architecture.
With the exhibition hand-out of eight green newsprint pages we have a set of Duchampian diagrams that include a boxlike dial-up machine for the self, its details determined by a set of Althusserian apparatuses that socially control, presented here as life stages and an odd overlaid blending (‘trans-crypting’) of Marxism and Buddhism. This could be an espousal of structuralist scientism, or post-structural satire, or perhaps a sniggering at both - where concepts are only marks as written words; to be toyed with on a formalist level of drawing, demonstrating abandoned compositional exuberance. A rejection of meaning except only as a poetic variety borne within ‘gestural’ marks in the form of relabelled graphs, charts and schemata.
Although there are no significant or abrupt changes to be discovered here this is still an exciting exhibition to explore. It’s a useful way of getting acquainted with Lett’s new space, a good opportunity to think about et al.’s achievements so far - the ground gained since the debut show of that (then newly inclusive) ‘branding’ entity in 2000, and a chance to enjoy a new bodily/mental experience. And as this show is likely to go through various changes during its chronological course till mid-March, a good exhibition to revisit.
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