Friday, 3 May 2019

Archaeologies | Mar-Apr 2019

Michael Boffey, Gina Soden, Danny Treacy

CHARLIE SMITH LONDON presents ‘Archaeologies’, the second exhibition of 2019 to be curated by gallery director Zavier Ellis. 

The exhibition brings together three artists whose practice is rooted in photography. However, they are multi-disciplinary, processed-based practitioners who mostly employ photography as a founding principle, which enables them to develop unique
and complex methodologies. Fundamental to their practices is a labour-intensive approach to researching, collecting, documenting and making; and a profound meditation on the passing of time, and its effect on objects and locations. Exploring derelict churches or hospitals; working with
found objects from rivers or cruising sites; or engaging with domestic ornaments and paraphernalia, each artist uses place and time to investigate the self, transience and mortality.

Michael Boffey | Bouquet | 2017 | Mixed media on wallpaper on board | 112x79cm

Michael Boffey embraces the historical notion of still life as memento mori. Working predominantly with flowers, Boffey makes work in three ways: wall mounted bronzes cast from flowers; vitrines encasing vases of flowers; and large-scale photographic works. It is the latter that illustrate the core of Boffey’s practice most conclusively. Recalling domestic interiors in which Boffey would have grown up in the 1970’s and 80’s, which in themselves were residual of the 1950’s, Boffey prints vases of flowers amongst other signifiers including doilies or crucifixes onto embossed wallpaper that is then painted and treated. These works are autobiographical, with visual remnants coalescing to represent a meditation on loss, regret and reminiscence.

Gina Soden | Asylum Entrance Hall on Mirror | 2018 | Photograph hand printed on antique mirror with 24 carat gold leaf & acrylic seal | 45x69cm

Gina Soden has established a process of hand printing images of dilapidated interiors onto found mirrors that have been treated and corroded with industrial tools and materials. Informed by the idea of the Grand Tour, she travels to abandoned territories and buildings throughout Europe. Soden seeks out disused public buildings including palaces, churches and asylums, often having to
access them illegally. Her objective is to transport the viewer to the location that she discovers, and to demonstrate the beauty of decay and the poetry of ruins. In this latter sense, Soden references John Ruskin’s ‘Seven Lamps of Architecture’, a text that became influential in summarizing thought around the 19th century Gothic revival. Ruins were of course a primary Gothic trope,
and Soden locates ideals of beauty, life, memory and truth in both decay and abandonment. Her work makes for complex viewing where symmetry, corrosion, reflection and image combine in a beguiling singular object.

Danny Treacy | Rituals (River) | 2019 | Found shoes, found clothes, wood | Dimensions variable 

Danny Treacy’s practice incorporates photography, sculpture, performance, collecting, archaeology and anthropology. Embracing the fieldwork ethic, Treacy explores bifunctional sites in order to locate, collect, manipulate and document found objects. This might include discarded clothing; objects from the River Thames; or used condoms at cruising sites. Treacy considers these
objects as the ‘fallout’ of human activity and questions the impermanence of value and function. By collecting, adapting and documenting, he renews the discarded and gives new value to the otherwise worthless, ultimately asserting their status as contemporary artefacts. The transitional flux to which these objects are subjected to, alongside the locale in which they are discovered, discloses behavioural characteristics of society at any given time. Therefore, Treacy’s practice could be considered as an exploration into community; identity; the politics of space; memory; and the ulterior.

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