Entering Castlefield Gallery’s new show this September, visitors will be met by a dramatic mural of abstract, gestural impasto. The colour scheme – blue, red and white – is not a reference to UK nationalism, but the iconic Aqua Fresh stripes; the piece being made entirely of toothpaste. Why?
AND A 123 is a group exhibition of works that seek to explore and unlock the beauty and spectacular in otherwise mundane, everyday objects. It is inspired by the ideas of performance and visual artist Lisa Watts, whose latest project, Not a Decorator (2017), will be exhibited and performed throughout the course of the show. Watts’ live artworks use simple, repeated gestures and minimal amounts of manipulation to allow common items, such as kitchen roll, bin liners and bird seed, to ‘perform themselves’. Or ‘come to life’, one might say.
The title of the exhibition is a phrase borrowed from dance studios and rehearsal spaces, conveying ideas of routine and repetition – a core part of Watts’ methodology. Her work also relates to the possibilities and challenges of presenting performance-based artworks in a gallery setting. During The Manchester Contemporary 2017 in October, Castlefield Gallery will also extend its programme outward, into its city centre New Art Spaces. Here, Belgium-based performance artists CMMC (Céline Mathieu and Myrthe van der Mark) will present a durational, site-responsive piece built up of a series of mundane, everyday actions interwoven with grand literary and art historical references, combining to create moments of ‘synchronised randomness’.
Among the six other artists in the exhibition, Maeve Rendle will present Either Or (2017) – a video installation that uses cycles of repetition and translation to aid misinterpretation, creating varying, individualised versions of Samuel Beckett’s 1977 libretto, Neither. Nina Chua’s signature repeated line compositions, drawn using a 30cm ruler and coloured marker pens, will reveal a whole spectrum of subtle variations through her deliberately limited choice of materials. And Noel Clueit’s Run in / Run out (2016) – an ongoing series of recordings from every record played in the artist’s studio – overlays the rhythmic patterns of side A and B of each disc, to create an entirely new, endless soundscape.
So why the toothpaste? Russell Hill’s Marion III (2017) is an attempt to re-present the minty-goo that we use as part of our daily routine, in a sublime, momentous light. Like all the works within the show, it is an invitation to notice the world around us afresh. To find a degree of magic in the mundane. And beauty in the banal.