Poppy Bisdee‘s Unit (2011) was one of the highlights of the Wimbledon College of Art BA show. In this work she photographed the exhibition space on all sides including the floor, without a trace of the photographic means. This includes the building supplies that are left on show in the exhibition spaces here, with the power sockets becoming a particular focal point in this piece, like Bradley Hayman‘s work Tunnel Vision at the Sassoon Gallery in 2009 featured the furniture and fire extinguisher as in the space when originally viewed.
Bisdee has then printed her photographs on acetate and reconstructed a miniature version of the room except for the wall farthest from where it is projected back onto using an overhead projector, creating a three-dimensional effect of being inside the room, whilst being drawn to consider the relationship between the projected sockets and the real one which is projected onto. Bisdee has turned simplicity into beauty. From a simple and minimal photographic act, she has created an interesting three-dimensional piece both within the acetate form and within the spatial installation.
Meanwhile at the Slade MFA show Haruka Ono created a miniature world from an entirely different medium, frozen food. Summer Holiday Dreams is a three-dimensional tropical landscape made up of battered fish and chicken nuggets whilst green beans form greenery protruding from the ground or hanging as palm leaves from trees. This is a curious dialectic work, depicting a tropical place in frozen food, which is contained in a modified commercial chest freezer with a glass top. Miniature toad in the holes form small boats floating on a sea of blue ice cream (pistachio perhaps) as a wave breaks towards them in cream or vanilla ice cream. It seems this work critiques the food it uses as a medium perhaps for its healthiness but more so for its environmental impact, using electricity likely generated by burning fossil fuels to preserve it, and its absent packaging clogging landfill, whilst the freezer, likely reclaimed from scrap, contains CFC gases. This work also shows the childlike playfulness of Fischli and Weiss’ The Sausage Photographs (1979), reflecting art and creativity as skills we are born with, but which most repress as they grow older.
Similarly, Nadège Mériau‘s photographs at the RCA Show appear to be the insides of caves, brightly lit as a tourist attraction. On a closer inspection a couple of these looked like these spaces were actually created from yellow loft insulation. However the red one, Grotto (2011), is visibly made of jelly, like someone has mischievously tucked into a large jelly intended for sharing before it was fully set, carved out the centre and abandoned it on its side with a pool of liquid jelly at the base. Consequently it appears all of Mériau’s works are made from foodstuff and the cavern in Au Centre de la Terre I (2011) must be made of some kind of bread, an environment which will cover in microorganisms in an exponentially quicker manner than they build up inside an actual cave. Hence on the one hand these works may reflect upon James Casebere’s images of cavernous or dungeon-like images such as the Luxor series (2007), with light entering a dark space, whilst food, as used by Haruka Ono and Mériau, is an everyday need, an essential part of life, yet one which some artists may struggle to afford. Likewise the viewer’s eye is drawn to the electrical sockets in Bisdee’s piece, as the plug on Michael Schultz’s Hair Dryer (2011) mentioned in The Art of Selling and the Selling of Art, today mundane supply connections for a multitude of gadgetry that may be in daily use, but non-existent a hundred years or so back and perhaps unnecessary in the future.
Nadège Mériau’s work can next be seen at Hoopers Gallery, 15 Clerkenwell Close, EC1R 0AA from 15th July 2011.