Ryan Gander: South London Gallery

Article excerpt

"There exists only one definition for everything, everywhere at any one time": So reads the inscription disguised as a mathematical equation and engraved on Didactease, 2006, a Tiffanys sterling-silver coin discreetly worn as a pendant by a gallery assistant at Ryan Gander's recent show, "Heralded as the New Black." The assistant also wore a white Adidas tracksuit with embroidery resembling bloodstains, suggesting an injury despite the unmistakable decorative effect of the embroidered pattern. Both works initiate various routes of meaning depending on how and when they are experienced, exemplifying Gander's ability to maneuver viewers along multiple interpretive frameworks--within which any supplementary information brings a sense of doubt, rather than reassurance, into play.


Not all the works were displayed in the gallery's main space; some went far beyond it, like Your life in five acts--Onwards (London), 2008, a free takeaway tourist map of London superimposing the location of Wagamama noodle bars onto a plan of the city as it was in 1911. Most of the works were small in scale compared to the large proportions of the room, but the overall display managed to dominate, starting with a black box right at the entrance showing the film Man on a Bridge (A study of David Lange), 2008. This work was based on the simple replication of the same scene over and over again: a man leaning from a railing over a trafficked bridge in London's East End.

Beyond the darkened space at its threshold, the main environment was reflected, minimized, and inverted inside one hundred large clear crystal balls on the floor, each containing a laser etching of a small piece of curved paper (A sheet of paper on which I was about to draw, as it slipped from my table and fell to the floor, 2008). Discreetly piled under an invigilator's chair was Rietveld Kindling, 2008, consisting of precut segments of unpainted beech wood that can be joined together to reconstruct Gerrit Rietveld's Red and Blue Chair, 1917. …