Magazine article Art Monthly

Richard Wilson

Magazine article Art Monthly

Richard Wilson

Article excerpt

Richard Wilson Barbican Curve Gallery London September 27 to January 14

A large screen filled the entrance of the Barbican's gallery space and projected on it was a video of a man in a boiler suit and safety goggles. He was tunnelling into a dark tight place, grunting and twisting as he cut through metal with an angle grinder or peeled back padded material with shears. It was part footage from a science-fiction deep-space rescue scene, part Stakhanovite celebration of sweaty labour and part extreme DIY. The jagged sound recalled industrial music videos from the 80s, when Richard Wilson, with Anne Bean, Paul Burwell and the Bow Gamelan Ensemble, had treated mechanical detritus as percussion instruments and attacked it with grinders and welders to make spectacular concerts of noise and vision. When you moved on around the screen you found a black London cab that had been hauled up on a scaffold at an acute and crazy angle. The bodywork had large sections cut out of it and smaller circles were bored into its volume, the yellow taxi light on the roof was still weakly flashing as if expiring and the object and the video joined in a forensic continuity of action and outcome.

Meter's Running, 2006, was one of three works that Wilson installed at the Barbican as part of the gallery's new commission programme for the space and he used the peculiar nature of the curved corridor to great effect. After Meter's Running, 2006, the white crushed tesselated planes of Hot Dog Roll, 2006, came into view; a mobile catering trailer that had been cut up and reassembled into geometric crystalline forms as if reconstituted in an alien cubist universe. At the end of the curve you came to the blunt end of Trailer Trash, 2006. Here a family caravan had been enclosed in a large metal framework and lifted off the ground on supports so that it could be rotated laterally through 360[degrees], as if on a spit over an invisible fire. At the further end you found that the back wall had been removed so that you could see into the brightly lit interior. The caravan's fixtures and furnishings tumbled in and out and up and down as the caravan spun on its axis. A video camera was mounted so that it rotated with the caravan and the image from this was projected onto a screen mounted on a stud framework at the end of the gallery. Because the camera turned with the caravan, here the room did not appear to spin, rather it seemed to be possessed by poltergeists: the hinged seat cushions rose and fell like lavatory seats; plywood and Formica drawers slid out and then back in again as if moved by an invisible hand; curtains gusted, then rested, then moved again. …

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