Hollybush Gardens

You Don’t Need a Weatherman to Know Which Way the Wind is Blowing

17 Jan - 22 Feb 2014

Exhibition view
17 January - 22 February 2014

You don’t need a weather man to know which way the wind blows are lyrics taken from the iconic Bob Dylan song Subterranean Homesick Blues originally released in 1965. The song speaks of the politics of the time, of counterculture and the American Civil Rights Movement. With these lyrics Dylan encouraged the young to make their own understanding of the changes of circumstance and in anticipation of the future. The exhibition title references Dylan whilst looking at works by a selection of artists that deploy animals to speak of moments of change. The exhibition can be seen as a conversation between works where animals might figure as an indicator of a range of realities; be they social conditions, life cycles, a way to describe weight, history, transformation of volume, or used to explore states of mind.

Working in ceramics, Aaron Angell’s works are at once formal and formless, carefully constructed and carelessly concluded. They are imbued with tradition and then again exploit its collapse. His sculptural tableaux depict colourful, fantasy landscapes. They are informed in part by idealised visions of hobbyists. They recall historical depictions of the birth of the Industrial Revolution – chimneys, stumps, pipes, water wheels and scars in the landscape. He has suggested of his ceramic works that they might be marquette for bad ideas.

Angell refers to compost when discussing his work: from its Latin root compositus - it is literally ‘something put together.’

Compost takes centre stage in A Way to Untilled (HD, 14 min, 2012/2013) by Pierre Huyghe made during his Untilled garden installation at Documenta 13 (2012). The film looks at the life of the garden in the absence of human presence, revealing different layers of activity taking place in the compost: life cycles of flowers and aphrodisiac plants, activities of insects, growth of vegetation on the beehive-head­ed garden sculpture, changes in the humidity and light conditions. Within this scene a magenta painted dog appears as if from nowhere to guide us around this world.

Detritus and its potential is considered by Andrea Büttner in Tischschmuck (table decorations, cast bronze, multiple pieces) 2013. Here she has collected zebra droppings from her local Zoo in Frankfurt and cast them in bronze. In this process organic and biodegradable material is given permanent form and that which was insignificant and unwanted is transformed into something desired and valuable. The original material has gone through multiple processes of transformation. The sculpture is presented on tabletops, surfaces usually associated with human mealtimes.

Worth and value is also explored in Charming for the Revolution by Pauline Boudry/Renate Lorenz, (16mm/DVD, 11 min, 2009) that nods at Jack Smith, the New York underground performer and filmmaker from the 60s -80s, as well as to the history of queer and feminist slogans such as ‘wages for housework!’, the film recreates the ‘housewife’ as an ambiguous figure with an open future. Additional refer­ences extend from; the philosophers’ Deleuze-Guattari’s notion ‘becoming-animal’, the Dandy of the 19th century described by Walther Benjamin as walking turtles on leads in protest against the heartbeat of industrialisation, to filmmaker Pasolini’s ironic-capitalist critique The Hawks and the Sparrows.

The Singing will Never be Done, (9 min video DV PAL, 2011) by Helen Cammock riffs across history, subject, object and family relations. The sculptured head in clay represents not only the relationship between the protagonists, but the tensions between different moments in recent history, forms of address and domestic space. A sculptured head has been a mainstay of the production of art - but whose head is it? This head is ambiguous, its identity is never declared as it appears in different settings across the video. The work as a whole speaks of the politics of race through the prism of family experience. Reference points in British history punctuate, such as Enoch Pow­ell’s ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech, the narrative as background to the development of family life. This personal story is set against scenes of screeching parakeets that present a parallel story of immigration,integration and (un)belonging.

In Knut Henrik Henriksen’s Elephant a sculpture is constructed out of a precise number of equally cut pieces of planks. Using the wall as a support the timber is schematically structured to shape a gradual slope until it touches the floor, forming the beginning of a circle or an outline of an elephant’s head where the trunk touches the floor. The eye wanders between the concrete here and now of the gallery with its architecture and building material and the elsewhere of the elephant’s home. In both places the beginning of the circle teases the eye to complete - and we go underground, dig ourselves into the material of the concrete floor and into the structure of the wall - into the sand and up through the back foot of the elephant, continuing up through the spine until we complete the circle as we reach the head again.

Jochen Lempert began using photography as a biologist to examine the relationship between human beings and the natural world.

Always working in black and white, his work engages with a diverse range of subjects and genres, ranging from everyday views to abstracted details. Photographic series alternate with single pictures, highly contrasted images with almost blank papers, through which multiple links and subtle associations are woven. His photography examines the friction between nature and culture, specifically the relationship between humans and animals: how mankind interprets animals anthropomorphically and how animals conquer new niches within urban spaces, unnoticed by their human neighbours. Lempert’s latest groups of work focus more on formations, patterns, struc­tures, conveying the aleatory potency of flocks of birds and animals in urban space.

In Bruno Pacheco’s painting a stranded whale is its subject. The whale embodies a transformative experience. When moving in water the whale is weightless and free, but as soon as it touches ground it is disabled by its own being. A whale is thus both light and heavy depending on its relationship to surrounding matter. Pacheco set himself the challenge of portraying this ambiguity by restricting himself to a small surface and a limited palette to communicate this aspect of the whale.

Tags: Aaron Angell, Andrea Büttner, Bob Dylan, Knut Henrik Henriksen, Pierre Huyghe, Jochen Lempert, Pauline Boudry / Renate Lorenz, Pauline Boudry & Renate Lorenz, Bruno Pacheco