John Hurrell – 29 August, 2011
Crookes' other contribution is to apply layers of gold leaf to the door handle and then to coat it with honey so that people entering get their hands coated. Such ‘dirty hands' might normally imply a moral censure, but the Beuysian symbolism suggests something else - the merits of action and participation, the power of human agency.
Brydee Rood & Matthew Crookes
The Golden Shuffle
26 August - 23 September 2011
This yellowy/golden collaborative installation in Gallery Two at St Paul Street, at first glance, seems to refer to the current global fiscal crisis and the rush for investor stability using gold - though it could be about spiritual or ecological symbolism (referencing waste) as well. That is if it assumed to be ‘about’ anything at all - beyond sensation and the experiential - and the ‘loaded’ materials do suggest that.
There are literally two physical levels in the gallery space. One on the floor at your feet (Crookes’ activity) and another above your head (Rood).
Matthew Crookes’ main contribution is to make bags of fake gold rings out of paper foil and to scatter these ornaments across the floor, especially towards the far end of the gallery where they are denser and form low piles, away from the gallery entrance. His other contribution is to apply layers of gold leaf to the door handle (the door is kept closed) and then to coat it with honey so that people entering get their hands coated. Such ‘dirty hands’ might normally imply a moral censure, but the Beuysian symbolism suggests something else - the merits of action and participation, the power of human agency.
The other artist, Brydee Rood, has run taut lines below the ceiling down the length of the gallery, and from these hung bright yellow plastic bags used by hospitals to contain discarded body parts removed during operations. These have been inflated and from them are hung strings weighed down with small brass bells. On the far left one notices that the large window overlooking the St. Paul street footpath is covered with a dark yellow film. It glows (like the bags) when the sun happens to be passing through it.
Light is a powerful component here, as is sound from the delicately tinkling bells, bumped and jostled when people pass through the vertical lines. Because of the ominous nature of Rood’s bags and the deliberately tacky nature of Crookes’ scattered rings the sound could be a warning of something about to happen - like the deafening silence of a gassed canary in a mine.
Or there is another possibility: the suggestion via the sticky door handle that thought occurs through action (not before but in it) so that the activity of moving below ‘hollow’ death and above ‘illusory’ paper materialism creates sound - an aural symbol for our engagement with the world. Although the show is motivated by issues of environment and consumption those aspects aren’t really that obvious in the exhibit itself. Other more existential readings to do with moving between the two horizontal layers are more interesting.
At first I thought this show was too understated, but on reflection, it does repay repeated visits. The interaction between door, window, floor, ceiling and chest height keeps interpretative ideas percolating. A excellent exhibition.
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