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The Role of the Title

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Installation of Lance Pearce's 'While you're on your way' in St Paul St Gallery, Gallery Two, 2019. Lance Pearce: Bathroom scales inside a pillow, 2019; The Sun highlights the lack in each, 2019. Lance Pearce: The Sun highlights the lack in each, 2019; A conductor's baton inside a pillow, 2019. Lance Pearce, The Sun highlights the lack in each, 2019. Lance Pearce, 180,000 hours of light, 2019. Lance Pearce: Curtains de-installed in a Düsseldorf apartment during the solar eclipse of 20 March 2015, 2019. Lance Pearce: Curtains de-installed in a Düsseldorf apartment during the solar eclipse of 20 March 2015, 2019. Lance Pearce, Campbell's canned soup bought in repetition, several times in different places, 2019. Lance Pearce, Fr Brian Keogh, Abbot at Kopua Monastery, has loaned out the bell used to call guests together for meals, 2019. Lance Pearce, Fr Brian Keogh, Abbot at Kopua Monastery, has loaned out the bell used to call guests together for meals, 2019

Pearce provides a short, written introduction, and a subtly-worded inventory (eight works) that when co-ordinated with the assorted readymade items we see displayed in Gallery Two, nudges us into thinking about reality, language, tropes, art history, and the conventions of art-viewing. It acknowledges the creativity of the spectator, especially the thinking they might do after leaving the artwork.

Auckland

 

Lance Pearce
While You’re On Your Way

 

22 November - 7 December 2019

This exhibition by Lance Pearce is part of his practice-led PhD research at AUT. It focusses on the role that titles play in our encounters with artworks, the presentation being a poetic, visual and linguistic rumination that looks at the role of descriptive headings and naming in our gallery experience.

Pearce provides a short, written introduction, and a subtly-worded inventory (eight works) that when co-ordinated with the assorted readymade items we see displayed in Gallery Two, nudges us into thinking about reality, language, tropes, art history, and the conventions of art-viewing. It acknowledges the creativity of the spectator, especially the thinking they might do after leaving the artwork.

Half the works allude to light, two glowing bulbs to the Sun that symbolises experienced reality and for which in comparison any descriptive language is woefully inadequate. The light-cognisant (but non-glowing) artworks (such as folded curtains or boxes of lightbulbs) seem to wittily reference the titles—instead of vice versa. They alternate to and fro, the titles commenting on their own function, a flipping over of their usual role.

Two other works (pillows) showcase the role of the imagination: one the power of analysis (hidden bathroom scales); the other, choice of sensuality (a hidden conductor’s baton).

In the titles of other works, art history can be decoded (Campbell’s canned soup / Pop art; paper bags / Fluxus), as can simultaneity (‘repetition’), art movement recycling (‘several times’) and geographic location (‘different places’). An abbot’s bell, for calling guests together for meals, can be seen as a symbol for global art zeitgeists.

Pearce‘s display is a thoughtful and slyly humorous look at the (here monastic) discipline that he, the university and the wider community are part of, and how meaning through the mechanism of titles is produced.

My view (not Pearce‘s) is that even when there is no title intended, a name such as (Untitled) still ends up being conferred. No void is possible. There is no blank space left unfilled.

In his introduction Pearce stresses that a lot more than simple labelling is involved, or convenient listing of an item’s existence.

A title inevitably establishes filters and seeds trajectories for feeling and thinking in response to a work of art—for how ‘meaning’ may emerge. Yet such meanings are never determining; a title might be a provocateur but should not become the comptroller…Titles develop between language’s conventions and excesses, where different registers of meaning intersect and interact, and where perception unfolds between emerging, changing and proliferating possibilities…

Following the show’s title and alluding perhaps to Barthes’ discussion of ‘that text which we write in our head when we look up‘ (from a book), meaning ‘unfolds’ in the spectator’s mind as they pick up their coat and purchased catalogues from the gallery bag-check room and pass back out into the world through the revolving doors. Coalescing significances insert themselves into the available title-slot, language snippets hovering above the recently examined art object in the memory of the visitor, while they make their way home.

John Hurrell

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