When Shall We Set Sail For Happiness?
Saturday 13th October – Saturday 10th November 2012
Craig Barnes, Dmitri Galitzine
FOLD Gallery is pleased to announce When Shall We Set Sail For Happiness? – a collaborative exhibition by Craig Barnes and Dmitri Galitzine.
In 1859 Charles Baudelaire went to live with his mother in the small harbour town of Honfleur, to try and find solace from the recent break up with his mistress and from the harrowing aftermath of the Fleurs du Mal trial. Here, he spent his days sitting in cafés, watching the boats moor and set sail, come and go. His mind would wander to lands afar, the boats whispering to him of a place beyond the stale horizon of his homeland. He dreamt of Lisbon, of its climate and light, conductive to thought and calm. Or Holland, or then again, Java, the Baltic or even the North Pole, ‘Anywhere! Anywhere! So long as it is out of this world!’
Almost two years ago Craig Barnes and Dmitri Galitzine each left London and set sail on a voyage of their own. They went in search of a place, to use Baudelaire’s words, of ‘ordre et beaute / Luxe, calme et volupte.’ They found themselves in a small cottage in rural Herefordshire and as time passed, they were forced to wonder if perhaps they still needed to dream.
When Shall We Set Sail For Happiness? posits the imaginary into the harsh light of the real. We join the artists as they pass through other lands and times, chasing the horizon like dogs chasing their own tails. First shown at Down Stairs, the gallery that the pair set up adjacent to their Herefordshire cottage, the exhibition has now come home. Whether or not the grass is indeed greener, the artist’s wanderlust is shown to manifest itself in the most mundane of realities.
Galitzine’s sculpture, Hundreds and Thousands, mixes the vocabulary of landscape gardening with that of a motorway service station to consider our futile attempts to adorn our surroundings with visual paraphernalia. Barnes’ video, I… explicitly references D.A. Pennebaker’s seminal video for Bob Dylan’s Subterranean Homesick Blues (1965) and Gillian Wearing’s Signs That Say What You Want Them To Say and Not Signs That Say What Someone Else Wants You to Say series (1992–1993). Lasting what Barnes understands to be the ideal length of a pop song, 3 minutes 20 seconds, it shows the artist presenting a series of 62 fluorescent cards absent of content.
Find the One is a series of watercolours reminiscent of artist’s impressions as used in property brochures. The paintings depict five new build houses in the Barratt Homes developments that are geographically closest to the five best places to live in the UK (according to the Halifax 2011 survey): Hart, Elmbridge, Wokingham, East Cambridgeshire and Brentwood. These are hung onto Barnes’ Unhappy: fluorescent fly posters depicting a home of equivalent size and cost in the most unhappy places to live in the UK (according to the RightMove 2012 survey): East London, Ilford, South East London, Luton and Romford.
In, I Just Can’t Help Believing, Galitzine has collaborated with photographer Andrew Chapman, who has been photographing Elvis Presley tribute artists for the past 8 years. Galitzine has used Chapman’s photographs to create a hall of fame: the UK’s most popular Elvises, all taken by Chapman at the Porthcawl Elvis Festival in Wales, the largest event of its type anywhere in the world. Twinning is made from pairing photographs taken by Barnes, documenting things of personal note and interest on various journeys. Coupled together, a pattern starts to emerge: seeking difference through familiarity.
Barnes’, It Came from the Ground, is a series of sparse, black modular constructions, which are set into the barren desert of Marfa, Texas – a painted backdrop by Galitzine of the American South West. This was the landscape beloved by Donald Judd, with it’s austere and razor sharp horizon. Barnes’ sculptures intentionally echo Judd’s cubist forms, but suggest a possible use value as hides: places for individual retreat and recalibration or perhaps even final resting places from a dystopian interpretation of the present day. The sculptures are made of recycled plastic, originally derived from oil, possibly mined from this very landscape. Galitzine has worked with Martin Kelly, a scenic artist who paints backdrops for film and theatre, to create a vast painting that engulfs Barnes’ works, while playing audience to them. Galitzine borrows the tools of a film set, using painting as a means of shipping Barnes sculptures into this unfamiliar panorama, where they stand alone amongst the wilderness.
Barnes’s England? and Scotland? series are drawings on pages torn from Batsford’s 1960’s pictorial guides. Often begun by asking the question ‘what if?’, for good or bad they provide a platform for intervention with the landscape. Barnes tests out ideas, both creating an imagined reality and accentuating the absurdities of modern life. The drawings often allude to the desire of mankind to assert something through the form of large sculpture not born of a celebration of form, but our fear of the power of nature and our pathetic attempts to dominate it.
Real Stone Effect is a mock promotional sales video, which introduces a new product from Feature Walls: a fictional company whose strap line boasts to: ‘bring the outdoors, indoors’. The video is presented to us on a display stand backed with a sample of the product demonstrated in the film: a PVC cladding with mimics stone wall. Galitzine considers the ramifications of our increasingly flat-pack culture and its natural simulations by using the hard sell rhetoric akin to trade shows: consumerism revealed at its most predatory.