The Hanging: Displacement Activities & The Leftovers at Verge Gallery

June 20th 2016

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It’s not every day that a gallery curator is bequeathed with an exhibiting artist’s entire legal estate. Siân McIntyre, the curator of Verge Gallery, is currently entitled to all of artist Steven Grainger’s possessions should he pass away at any point throughout his exhibition.

Titled Displacement Activities, Grainger’s exhibition subverts the relationship between artist and curator, putting McIntyre in the spotlight as a figure of authority charged with the huge responsibility of facilitating the exhibition, his art likened to a lifetime of possessions.

Using Grainger’s framed will as an access point to explore existential subject matter, the exhibition holds an underlying feeling of loaded tension. Ladders hang suspended in the middle of the space, their functionality rendered useless, grounded in nothing and leading to nowhere. A TV screen shows a fuse attached to an apple, fizzling slowly down and then looping and starting all over again just when you expect the apple to blow up. A huge inkjet print of an outstretched arm points menacingly towards the curator’s desk, the fingers curled into the shape of a gun.

The works allude to the possibility of disaster, yet they exist in an idle space. Notions of mortality, fear and responsibility are poetically woven throughout the exhibition. As viewers, we are forced to think about what we leave behind and who we leave it to.

It’s no coincidence that a group exhibition titled The Leftovers is currently showing at Verge in the adjacent gallery space. Curated by Talia Smith, The Leftovers addresses mortality more subtly, using photography and video to explore traces of memory that are left behind once someone or something passes.

The works in the exhibition are raw and honest, depicting personal struggles and the use of art as a coping mechanism to document loss. The demise of physical and mental health are shown alongside the heartache of a breakup, with familial and romantic love the instigators of grief. Each artist’s struggle with comprehension is articulated poignantly, the personal narratives universally relatable.

Both exhibitions communicate the commonly experienced moment of an existential crisis. Although the content at first seems quite sombre, sharing that burden with the artists makes it less terrifying, dealing with issues that are difficult yet necessary to articulate.

WHAT: Displacement Activities and The Leftovers
WHERE: Verge Gallery
WHEN: 2 June – 25 June
HOW MUCH: FREE – more info here

 

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Katie Winten