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Story of the Eye: Knut Asdam, A.K. Dolven, Dan Graham

A Mead Gallery Exhibition

Fri 16 Jan – Fri 12 Mar 2004

This show takes its title from a revolutionary short novel by the French writer George Bataille. ‘Histoire de l’oeil’ shatters conventional approaches to reading. It asks us to revise our relationship with the form, imagery and meaning of the text. The book is also concerned to shift the notion of vision from a process of the mind to a practice intimately connected with the physicality of the body. Similarly, this exhibition seeks to challenge the viewer’s relationship to the work of art by asking them to position themselves within works in the show and to consider their own physical and perceptual responses to the environments and images they encounter.

‘between the morning and the handbag II’ by A.K. Dolven forms both an entrance to the exhibition and a barrier to the spectator. Its ten metre long wooden structure has to be physically negotiated by the viewer in order to observe the double projection within it. The architecture frames the spectator as much as the image, positioning the viewer between two scenes. The far doorway offers a view of Dolven’s second work, 2:57, a large-scale projection of a forest landscape. The hypnotic effect of these images is counter balanced by tight framing and careful control of the relationship between foreground and background.

‘Opposing Mirrors and Video Monitors on Time Delay’ is a key early work by Dan Graham. In the mid-seventies Graham produced a series of works using materials such as mirrors, reflective glass and video cameras that incorporated the audience within the work of art. These works allow spectators to observe their own responses to the piece and their reactions to the presence of other viewers occupying the same space. This work includes a video camera that relays the recorded image to a video monitor on the other side of the room only after a five second delay. As the individual’s recent past is displaced from their present it becomes possible for them to observe themselves in the more objective, distanced way that they might observe others.

Knut Asdam extends the social implications of Graham’s work. ‘Psychasthenia 10 Series 2’ presents melancholic images of decaying urban tower blocks shot at night. These images contrast sharply with the soft curtain enclosure that surrounds them, as does the architecture of the gallery itself. The projected images dissolve into each other creating a seductive dream like environment. ‘Filter City’ is a new film work by Asdam that continues his interest in the relationship between social and architectural practice. The scripted narrative follows two female figures who play out their relationship in public spaces between the architectural structures of the city.

The Mead Gallery has a history of presenting work commissioned to address its space. In this exhibition the viewer becomes an acknowledged participant and their active responses to the works are central to the conception of the show.