Oliver Payne and Nick Relph: Gavin Brown's Enterprise

By Bentley, Kyle | Artforum International, December 2007 | Go to article overview
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Oliver Payne and Nick Relph: Gavin Brown's Enterprise


Bentley, Kyle, Artforum International


Those accustomed to Oliver Payne and Nick Relph's early, collagelike films, in which images of life in and around London are set against documentary-style narration or music by (among others) the Sex Pistols and Terry Riley, may have been surprised to find that the artists' most recent exhibition was slick, sculptural, and eerily quiet. The show did include four videos, but these are silent, and depict action that hovers in a perverse equilibrium imposed by corporate culture. Swoon Soon, 2006, for example, portrays a slinky, modish woman strutting through a primarily black-and-white realm of floating logos and pop-cultural images. By also rendering this commercial landscape in three dimensions, the artists constructed their exhibition as a showroomlike environment, perching sly critiques on high-design pedestals.

The installation featured ready-made, knocked-off, or repurposed pieces of modernist furniture by designers such as Gerrit Rietveld and Giancarlo Piretti. Fittingly, Duchampian bicycle wheels, one of which served as the reel of a film projector, punctuated the show. The film--made with a hole-punched filmstrip--produces flickering light effects that channel the spastic energy of the artists' 2002 video Mixtape into the structural concerns of Stan Brakhage and Tony Conrad. The other 16-mm film on view, The Gap, 2007, comprises one long shot, taken by a fixed camera, of a car show in Pasadena at which visitors gawk at the futuristic concept car designed by Lexus for Steven Spielberg's 2002 movie Minority Report. Enthusiasts hover around the vehicle as if magnetically drawn to the shiny surfaces.

Among the furniture sculptures were two bastardized versions of Rietveld's Berlin chairs, their black, white, and gray panels affixed with aluminum offshoots that together form stylized figures lounging on, and merging with, the chairs themselves--one complete with a phallic protrusion angling upward from its seat.

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