Union gallery is pleased to announce Potent Proposition, the final exhibition in a trilogy of shows by Mike Chavez-Dawson and Brian Reed, who collaborate based on a shared interest in belief and power systems and explore themes of value, meaning, and cultural creative conviction.
Mike Chavez-Dawson’s interdisciplinary practice reworks the visual language of art history and cultural institutions as a tool to de-code the structures of cultural reverence and the role of the artist. Brian Reed appropriates images, objects and texts from the political and personal, financial and commercial spheres; his interests are in the systems we create for the social structures, personal relationships and beliefs we use to shape our vision of the world.
For this exhibition, Reed utilises his collection of discarded personal media. Taking the photographic records of unknown personal memories, he creates visual odes to the human experience. He has produced two new series of works on the duality of human emotion: love and hate, spirituality and war.
In watching your shadow these memories of everyday life are displaced from their original purpose to connect people to their past. Visually inserting boreholes through the head and shoulders of the photograph’s subject, the upper body and surrounding area is removed by black circles that reflect glimpses of the viewer. The circle is one of the original sacred symbols from early human expression of worship and understanding. It is associated to the divine in monotheism, the halo of the enlightened and the aura of the spirit or soul; these are all employed by Reed as he muses on the spiritual, trying for a place outside the dogma of established and new age religions, and the nihilism of secular thought.
His concerns toward war and crimes against humanity (the use of genocide/democide during times of social change and conflict) stem from 20th century history and the over-population rhetoric of the United Nations since the early 1970’s. Coupled with the growing tensions around the world, environmental issues and the apparent de-population agenda put forward by some in the independent media, all manifest in Surplus. A large-scale work of sixteen reproductions of the reverse-side of lost passport photographs; scanned, enlarged and individually framed into a 4 by 4 grid.
The oversized stains, tears and creases all tell an abstract history of the physical photograph and by connection the individual represented on the other side of the original. The trompe- l'œil marks and stains visually connect to abstract expressionism and the movement’s metaphysical implications to textural mark making. Reed personally connects to this form and too the art informel work of the late Antoni Tàpies - who had an early influence, both visually and in his connecting of the social/political to art.
The subtitle of Surplus, if you can’t hear the drums of war beating you must be deaf, is a disputed quote by Henry Kissinger, the American diplomat and political scientist; subject to speculation and de-bunking in the alternative media. True or not, it remains, for Reed, a potent reminder of the unrest around the world and the continuing strategic positioning of military equipment by the major world nations under the guise of army exercises.
Mike Chavez-Dawson’s recent work Column: 50cc of Paris Air, Fountain, In Advance Klecksdale, 2015 to 2017 comprises four individually framed 'text-Rorschach's' that have been shaded and filled in with red, green and blue fine tip permanent marker, graphite and green ready-mix poster-paint, on lightweight 80gsm White A3 archive paper. These particular 'Text-Rorschachs' have come about during his current GfA ACE funded research where he's developing an artist moving image and exhibition seeking to exemplify and survey the relevance of the seminal artwork 'Fountain, 1917 - 1964', which has been assigned to Marcel Duchamp.
The production process and outcome consider the simultaneous creation and destruction of the artworks they recall and as modular works in the self. For Chavez-Dawson it's the language and meaning transformed; here the titles of key Duchamp readymades are painted/dropped in his own handwriting then folded into a Klecksgraphic/Rorschach (which is a series of ink blots made into a visual abstract, and once used as an assessing form of psychoanalysis). Monumentalised, entombed and archived, the column and date lends it's self to expansion into further editions to be added at a later date.
The work also invokes a homage to Brancusi's variable Endless Column'. It’s well noted that Brancusi was a colleague of Duchamp, and that they engaged in philosophically-charged correspondence.
Overall this body of research led practice by Chavez-Dawson, seeks to make transparent the complicity we have in terms of market force pressures, systems of belief and valuation, and the struggle for creative freedom. Like a well-planned chess game, each opponent seeks to master the technique of playing several moves ahead - often waiting for openings, a moment of creative chance - and ultimately the interdependent nature of everything and the illusionary nature of it all.
Debuting as part of 'Potent Proposition' is the first in a series of evolving teaser trailers for a cinematic artist moving image project that is a cereal part of Chavez-Dawson's GfA ACE R&D around the seminal work 'Fountain, 1917 - 1964' and will eventually conclude as a 50 minute feature length artwork. This seeks to act as an 'exemplification-cum-meditation' around the questionable relevance that the now seemingly iconic artwork has.
Throughout the duration of the PP (three months) Chavez-Dawson will update and revise the trailer, there will also be correlation to responses, other works, some related to the show, others will be via invitations to other artists.
Here to date, the current version has received collaborations with Coventry filmmaker Brian Harley, actor Bevan Mollineux, Designer Sam Moore from GRID design, and musician Duke Garwood & producer Stratt Barrett, also archive material from the Duchamp Foundation. Special thanks goes to Adapt For Arts (Steph & Tom), Arts Council, Frank Cohen, Harris Art Museum, Dr Marios Pierides and Atelier One.