We are all at sea
Tags: Aftermath: Objects from Projects, Clive Phillpot, Dematerialised: Jack Wendler Gallery 1971-1974, Deniz Paran, Ed Ruscha, In Peril on the Sea: Sailing Ships, Lawrence Weiner, MA Curating and Collections, Marcel Broodthaers, Ping Pong Dialogues: Bill Beckley, RNLI, Should I Stay Or Should I Go, Willem Van der Velde the Younger, X Marks the Bokship
After all of the work preparing and installing, Clive Phillpot and his curatorial assistants from Chelsea College of Arts’ MA Curating and Collections settled back and enjoyed the private view of In Peril On The Sea: Sailing Ships and Stormy Seas
Clive enjoyed welcoming everyone and it was great to see friends who have worked with CHELSEA space in the past including Jo Melvin who curated Ping Pong Dialogues: Bill Beckley for us in 2008, Hana Noorali and Lynton Talbot who, with Elena Crippa, curated our 5th year anniversary shows and events Should I Stay Or Should I Go? in 2010 and Laure Genillard who curated our show Aftermath: Objects from Projects in 2011.
The starting point for the show is Marcel Broodthaers’ 1974 artists’ book A Voyage On the North Sea. Clive Phillpot has taken the line from Broodthaers’ introduction, “It is up to the attentive reader to find out what devilish motive inspired this book’s publication”, as an open invitation and uses the exhibition to “explore ‘motive’ and ‘decoy’ within artistic and curatorial practice”. Marcel Broodthaers featured once before at CHELSEA space when we showed his film Speakers Corner in our 2009 show Dematerialised: Jack Wendler Gallery 1971 to 1974 curated by Teresa Gleadowe.
In Peril On The Sea… is thought provoking and mischievous and presents an environment suggesting instability and precariousness. Walls are painted green and emblazoned with nautical language; works are spot-lit; modern and contemporary artworks sit alongside reproductions of historic marine paintings. A real boat (kindly loaned by the artists’ bookshop and project space, X Marks the Bökship), posters hung askew, TV monitors, multiples and artists’ books – all are given equal status.
It is hard to ascertain what is authentic in this show and how we should view the work. The Lawrence Weiner street poster from 1986 is not the original, but a facsimile kindly authorized by Weiner especially for this exhibition. There are two Ed Ruscha posters on display; posters are clearly not original artworks however they are Ed Ruscha’s personal copies, sent from his studio in California. Between Ed Ruscha’s posters is a real RNLI collection box from the Tower Lifeboat station reminding us that, curatorial jokes aside, peril on the sea can be a matter of life and death.
Visitors to the exhibition have responded positively to the ‘slippage’ and confusions that the show throws up. This photograph by Deniz Paran of Millbank Tower, Tate Britain and Chelsea College of Arts reflected in the glass frame of a reproduction of The Gust by Willem Van de Velde the Younger is a perfect illustration of how Clive Phillpot’s show has left us feeling all at sea.