The latest exhibition at the David Roberts Foundation is a huge opportunity for the curators selected from the Goldsmiths MFA Curating course to create a group exhibition with resources that would normally be beyond that of most students at this stage of their careers. The exhibition, titled The Moon is an Arrant Thief, brings together work from the 1960’s to the present day and in the hands of curators Thom O’Nions, Luiza Teixeira de Freitas and Oliver Martinez-Kandt is a wonderfully balanced collection of works that flows around the gallery spaces of the David Roberts Foundation. One might expect in the hands of young curators a riot of bold, brash statements but this exhibition shows a maturity from the curators to create space with which these subtle, quiet works can speak for themselves.
The first work one sees on entering the gallery is Roman Ondak’s ‘The stray man’, this video piece sees an unknown man slowly strolling back and forth, loitering on the street and occasionally peering into the large windows of an office building. We watch as the scene unfolds but in this scene there is no payoff just an act of supposition on the viewers part as to the view that is seen by the man we are watching, he cranes his neck and shades his eyes but one feels that the important sight inside is only partially viewed. Viewing this we are in a strange dance with the man we watch on the screen. We cant see at what he is looking and might question whether his act of looking is an inducement to others to look or a genuine need to see something which is just beyond real sight inside the building.
Adjacent to this piece is Joelle Tuerlinckx punched paper holes scattered on the gallery floor in a square, one might add to this disruption of the linear pattern as we become aware of our feet scuffing and pushing the fragments of paper as we pass through the piece which then gradually scatters and spreads underfoot during the duration of the exhibition. As with many of the works in the exhibition the work can seem only a part of a wider story or piece of information. The works make us question the honesty, integrity or veracity of documentation and the views of histories contained within.
Robert Kinmont’s ‘My Favourite Chair’ is simply hung on the wall, a fragment, a remnant of the chair back, a wholly personal historical document. Reconfigured as an art object Kinmont elevates this loved domestic object into something more significant to us as viewers, and presumably to elevate it’s standing to something equivalent to the comfort that it once provided to the artist in whichever provenance this was acquired from and manner this seemingly generic object assumed in its life of use. Kitty Kraus configured glass sheets are another generic made significant, placed together from glass sheets of the same dimensions different configurations provide a wider visual interpretation of this amalgam of transparent and clean almost seemingly unreadable material. It is the multitude of visual rhythms created that elevate the materials.
In the downstairs gallery Tim Etchell's neon states “Let’s pretend none of this happened” it is a sinister, isolated statement, free from any further information one might build multiple narratives to explain the back story to this boldly simple, glowing statement. Juxtaposed with Rosa Barba’s “It’s Gonna Happen” at the other end of the gallery one can see the hands of the curators in the formation of this suite of collected works. Barba’s work presents a screen with words that contain a story, each line of text appears like an isolated segment of a narrative, like a description of a films screenplay in transcribed speech and with descriptors of scenes. The words appear and are then replaced by the next line, the passage of time between each seems to obliterate the story.
There are stories within all the artworks but rather than dripping with information and the heavy burden of history these collected works bear only a lightness of happening, they are objects which are not so much viewed and experienced as witnessed, documented and re-interpreted.