Sprung Spring embraces processes of failure, exposure, and humour, embracing the crude, and perversely enjoying its own awkwardness. It slips between the beautiful, the tragic, and the humorous.
The structure of humour, the structure of a joke, is often based on a failure, a misunderstanding, or something unexpected, ugly or taboo. Sometimes laughter is our only possible escape from tensions that have become unbearable. Laughing works as a way to spin the uncomfortable into the enjoyable. Then there are moments when a crucial part of a plan is missing, when we see someone falter in their ambition. It can feel as if a whole world collapses in a mess. In that moment, after some clumsy goof, as the veil of composure is pulled away, as we see a person hurriedly try to gather themselves together, we see human vulnerability. Awkward and beautiful, and at the same time funny.
In 2005 g39 presented ‘On Leaving and Arriving’, artworks were presented in a set of shipping containers placed in public spaces around the city. One of the works was Marcos Chaves’ Dying of Laughter. The work was an audio piece, the sound of laughter, that seemed to come from inside a locked shipping container. After some public confusion, real concerns that there was someone actually stuck in the shipping container, and the staff of a nearby bank being driven to their wits end, the compromise was that it would be played sporadically. The laughing without context, the endlessness of it, and the artwork’s awkward intrusion into public space, generated a tension that, on this particular occasion, it seems, was pushed too far.
Occasionally coinciding with this laughter Philippa Brown’s sculptural work doggedly keeps joking. Making the solid less stable, the combination of sculptures in g39 just skim the magical or spiritual before being mischievously undermined with crude language, gestures and materials. There are parallels with Rebecca Gould’s work too, but she brings together autobiographical details and nostalgia into her sculptures, the meaning and associations embedded within materials as important as how the elements ‘perform’ together when presented in a gallery. A wall of drawings by George Manson can’t decide where to stop, new drawings and amendments will be added throughout the show; new clusters and relationships drawn. The pin board wall refuses to take the status of ‘Artwork’ hanging on a wall. George’s work peels back a layer to find the surreal, sad, and absurd in everyday situations. Mini parables of loneliness and abrupt comments on contemporary life. There’s a comedy to this work that brings the weird and the weak together in strange ways.
Nightshift International’s film works display a low budget opulence in the feeling of made-for-TV movies of the 70s and 80s. These works make the ordinary seem taboo and make the everyday feel like some creepy secret. They dig up sad and tender moments that take place when acting out scenarios of pathetic fantasy. The scenarios take place in ordinary spaces, lifeless music drones on and the feeling of luxury and opulence ends up in a bulge of weird awkwardness.
Perhaps the most unsettling work is a new piece by Tim Bromage. Working with a Punch and Judy show puppeteer he looks at the repetitive actions that are performed by rote. Without the puppets there is a sense of detachment, with the colours of the costume and the stage pulled away there is just an absurd set of actions and gestures thrown from one hand to another. His practice draws upon a number of areas of interest, including stage magic and folk traditions. His performance work is an ongoing exploration of fact and fiction, the humour present within these experiences, and the dualism present within the human condition.
In this exhibition Sprung Spring, recalling Chaves’ memorable work, we’re intrigued again by awkward tensions, this time perversely enjoying them. This is an exhibition that wants us to think about those moments in the push and pull of humour, the rich fertile ground of failure, and the stage-craft of artworks and jokes.
List of Works: Marcos Chaves Morrendo de rir (Dying of Laughter), 2002, Philippa Brown Untitled, 2019, Portal, 2019, Rebecca Gould Tight Like Socks in Sliders, (Snakeskin PVC Cotton shirt, handkerchief, rhinestone and rivets), 2019 Untitled, 2019, George Manson An Inventor Needed, 2019, Tim Bromage The Lord of Misrule, performed by Quentin Reynolds, Filmed and Edited by Roger Graham, Directed by Tim Bromage, 2019 Nightshift International By the Lake, Animalism, Meeting Place, Afternoon Slot, Green Hills.