Charles Sandison

16 Jan - 24 Mar 2007

Charles Sandison
16 Jan - 24 Mar 2007

Arndt & Partner are pleased to present the solo show Cryptozoologies with works by Charles Sandison.

Charles Sandison: Spatial Poetry
by Katja Albers

The Scottish artist Charles Sandison transports viewers into the fascinating world of the labyrinthine complications of language. Words and symbols dance, float, meet and mingle across the walls of the darkened gallery and the whole structure of the exhibition space. Sometimes aggressive, hasty and then slow and peaceful again, it seems as if the words have acquired a life and logic of their own. In the middle of the kaleidoscopic swarms of words we feel as though we have landed in the middle of the mouth of thought itself, in which the words become the protagonists of a story about the origin of being. Their movements seem random at first, but on closer inspection, we discover that they possess an individual choreography that resembles a digital simulation of the systems of nature and civilisation, a poetic illustration of the binary code that forms their basis. In a simple but eloquent way they reveal the extent to which our language and indeed our whole system of thought rest on primordial binary structures such as light and dark, good and evil, male and female, natural and artificial, open and closed, dead and alive. Projected against the wall, the ephemeral form in which they are presented again serves to underline the fleeting nature of thought and images, which can be perpetually reinvented and put together in an infinite number of ways.

In ‘Living Rooms’, the installation Sandison brought to the Finnish pavilion at the Venice Biennial 2001 and which led to his international breakthrough, the artist let the whitely illuminated words Male, Female, Food, Father, Mother, Child, Old and Dead glide across the darkened exhibition walls. The words refer to the basic elements of our existence: men rival for food; upon maturity they seek the company of women and children are born; when population numbers threaten to explode, deadly viruses appear; but even without those, society ages and gradually dies a natural death. The beginnings and the end of life merge in an organic flow of time and space, in the midst of and as a prisoner of which, human beings see and reflect upon themselves. The installation “Family” (2006), recently shown at the Shanghai Biennial, has a similarly schematic structure. Here the viewer is surrounded by a blizzard of Chinese characters. The existential dynamics of the piece work irrespective of the cultural context. But as we see in the exhibition ‘The Book of Light’ (Fundación La Caixa, Palma Mallorca, 2006) in which he covered the whole building with Biblical quotes, it is the themes of the Christian, Western world Sandison reverts to time and again.

Despite their profoundly metaphorical nature, the works of Sandison also have a sense of humour to them, as we see in the installation ‘Lumière’ (2006). Here we find ourselves facing a large-format, wall-filling abstraction of rhythmically moving variation of sketchily drawn and darkly opaque surfaces. It is only after contemplating these for a while that we realize we are looking at people. They are abstracted copies of a home video of a family holiday, pictures of the beach, of people and gulls and the sea, dissolved in a sea of black and white symbols. And here too, the title of the piece can be interpreted as a witty reference both to the Lumière brothers on the one hand, who at the beginning of the 20th century invented the world’s first film projector, the cinématographe, with which they first projected motion pictures; and on the other, to the Finnish word ‘lumi’ meaning snow, i.e. a time of year of extreme light and dark contrasts. With a gentle wink, Sandison takes us to his chosen home of Finland, which he loves primarily for the winter, the tremendous length of it and the concentration on elementary contrasts it imposes on all who live there.

Charles Sandison, born in Scotland in 1969, lives and works in Tampere, Finland. Sandison has participated in important international group exhibitions at ZKM, Karlsruhe, Germany (2004), Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki (2004), Museum of Art, Lucerne, Switzerland (2005), and the Kunstmuseum Bonn, Germany (2006), among others. Most recently, his work was represented at the Shanghai Biennial 2006. Sandison has also had numerous solo exhibitions e.g. at the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki (2004), the Centre pour l’image contemporain, Geneva, and the Fundación La Caixa, Palma Mallorca, Spain (both 2006).

© Charles Sandison, Cryptozoology, 2006, Edition of 3 + 1 AP, 6 channel data projection, C language computer code, dimensions variable

Tags: Charles Sandison