Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Creative Machines, Minimalist Sculpture - gallery text

Creative Machines, Minimalist Sculpture
21st–30th October 2011 12 – 5pm

Curzon Street Station, Curzon Street, Birmingham

Artist include: Wayne Chisnall, Stephen Cornford, Robert
Jacobsen, Jaime Jackson, Markus Kayser, Rob Mullender,
Alex Pearl, Ben Rowe, Martin Sexton, Laura Skinner,
Minnie Weisz, Luke Williams and Adam Zoltowski

Curated by Charlie Levine, TROVE, Birmingham & Minnie
Weisz, Minnie Weisz Studio, London

Creative Machines, Minimalist Sculpture is an exhibition that
has developed from conversations between Birmingham curator,
Charlie Levine, and London gallery director and artist, Minnie
Weisz. Interested in forging and forming links with creative
practices and artists outside their home cities, Levine and
Weisz have formed a creative collaboration, which is linked by
rail stations, both connecting north and south. So, very apt
that this exhibition takes place at the very first station to
link Birmingham directly to London; built in 1838, at the
start of the Industrial Revolution.

Curzon Street Station had regular passenger services to London
Euston until 1854. Then, it was a direct link from Birmingham
to Euston, (a stones throw away from Weisz’s London studio in
King’s Cross). After which it ran only cargo trains until its
closure in 1966. The building, designed by Philip Hardwick,
mirrored the Euston Arch Station in London, sadly demolished
in 1960, just six years before the closure of Curzon Street

For ‘The Event 2011’, Levine and Weisz have curated an
exhibition entitled Creative Machines, Minimalist Sculpture.
It brings together artists from all over the UK who either
create their own machine art works or have used machinery, or
the idea of mechanics, to create the final Heath Robinsonesque
whimsical, playful, scientific and experimental pieces.

Jaime Jackson and Alex Pearl’s site-specific film work
reflects the exhibition space and its heritage. Pearl’s
series of short black and white films, created and filmed by
small battery powered machines, and Jackson’s large scale
outdoor projection (for the launch night only) of people
passing through New Street Station, are all about trains and
in particular train stations. They are diverse in scale
though not in subject, Pearl’s microfilms verses Jackson’s
building size projection.

The film works by Markus Kayser, are a prelude to the machines
he makes, resulting in a cinematic narrative which forms part
of his process and machine experiments. The audience is shown
a view into his world, how he builds his machines, from start
to finish.

Martin Sexton’s engaging film explores what happens when a
psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School interacts with 62
school children that all say they have witnessed a UFO landing
and encountered its strange humanoid occupants.

Inspired by film, Ben Rowe and Laura Skinner make
imagined/familiar machines come to life. Skinner’s recent
final degree piece has been re-commissioned specifically for
this exhibition; a dark and eerie swing moving on its own
conjures up classic film noir and Hitchcock style horror. Rowe
takes a lighter look at classic 80’s sci-fi film machines,
recreating out of MDF such iconic machines as the ‘flux
capacitor’ from Back to the Future and Bill and Ted’s time
machine phone box.

Wayne Chisnall continues the lens-based theme by creating a
modern cityscape from old camera lenses and found ephemera. It
makes you think of the views from train windows, and how they
in turn become a different lens/frame through which to see the
world. Weisz exhibits a large scale camera obscura photograph,
depicting an inverted reflection of St.Pancras Station,
London, as if its gazing directly into the Curzon Street
Station, crossing the present, past, time, memory and place.

Artists Luke Williams and Stephen Cornford continue the hand
made theme of the exhibition. Williams has made two
sculptural pieces that project light, both based on the
cosmos, specifically the stars, while Cornford’s piece is an
installation of tape cassette recorders that switch on when
sensing motion. These then perform in light and sound. Both
works encompassing the theme of creative machines and
minimalist sculpture, they are hand made sculptural pieces
which literally light up mechanically.

Finally artists Rob Mullender and Adam Zoltowski bring a 2D
element to the show. Zoltowski’s multiple give-away piece of
a robot drawing has been photocopied 1000 times, utilising the
machine in both design and production. Mullender’s delicate
rubbings of old machines have been shellacked and framed.
Mullender has not used graphite to create these; rather he has
etched away with his nail to highlight the original scratches
and marks off the machines.

The exhibition crosses sound, film and object/sculpture all
based around the narrative of creative machines and minimalist
sculpture. It is a look into pure machines meets pure
minimalism, in a unique gallery setting.

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