Mark Leckey: SERPENTINE GALLERY
Gilligan, Melanie, Artforum International
On entering Mark Leckey's exhibition "See, We Assemble," visitors encountered the show's video "trailer." Before a video-production green screen sat an upturned speaker cone filled with puttylike cornstarch dyed the same bright color. Sound emanated from the speaker, causing it to vibrate and gradually solidifying the material--thus announcing a leitmotif that would run throughout the exhibition: physical transformations brought about through unseen forces. In the video, a Samsung logo drifts across slowly, made surreal by an electrical thrumming. Next, still images consciously depict various layers of mediated remove: The nearby Albert Memorial is seen first in situ, then against a green screen, then as an online publicity image. A Fiorucci advertisement appears, then a Henry Moore exhibition poster; then both are shown being photographed with a Samsung smartphone. The trailer sells us the show, distilled down to evocations and affect.
The way this video divides the show's contents among three brands--Fiorucci, Samsung, and Moore--was mirrored in the exhibition itself, with each given a room. In the central space, a svelte Henry Moore sculpture. Upright Motive No. 9,1979, stared down a stack of speakers. This was the mise-en-scene of Leckey's performance Big-BoxStatue Action, 2003/2011 In it, Leckey sing-speaks and plays sounds at the sculpture, apparently trying to communicate with it and somehow move the static mattet. "When first performed at Tate Britain, this work was more of a face-off than a serenade as Leckey launched beat-heavy electronic music at Jacob Epstein's bulbous alabaster Jacob and the Angel, 1940-41. Leckey pushed and one felt as though the blocklike figures pushed back. Eight years later, the skinny bronze Moore of the Serpentine performances was less responsive to Leckey's action, despite his entreating calls: "Persuasion, gotta get some. I persuade you." Nevertheless, the strange aesthetico-scientific premise, making one imagine the mixing molecules of sound and sculpture, still retains its strength. …