John Wood and Paul Harrison
I DIDN’T KNOW I DIDN’T KNOW IT
February 12 – April 24, 2016
The Contemporary Art Gallery presents the first solo exhibition in Canada by British duo John Wood and Paul Harrison. Their practice unfolds as a way of observing the human condition, an ongoing investigation into the world that surrounds us, the objects we encounter and use daily, and our fundamental engagement with the physical universe in all its sometime or seemingly futile existence.
Comprising various everyday objects, drawings, photographs and videos, the exhibition provides a survey detailing recent propositions for the artists where narrative comes seeping in: taste, politics, aspiration, planning, individual and collective dreaming and ambition appear, literally and metaphorically, opening up on to the world outside. Time, as perceived in an action on video, lengthens from seconds into decades within the sculptural forms, and the focus widens from a momentary encounter in a studio to a project in a landscape or a vision of things to come. As viewers we become implicated in their tragicomic world of absurdist humour leading to both simultaneous delight and sombre reflection on the failures of human endeavour.
The installation contains a selection of new sculptures using tools, drawing equipment and other useful items in various media. For example, two propelling pencils share a single lead; another pencil has been sharpened right down to the rubber end and remains housed in its sharpener; a length of string is measured against a ruler; two balls of string, one un-wound then re-wound, the other original, and a single glue stick, stuck head first onto a wall. The humour is dry and the jokes visual; the familiar made strange by altering perceptions.
Connecting these sculptural works is a selection of videos, typical of their practice while sharing a pared-down set of qualities. 10×10 (2011) and Semi Automatic Painting Machine (2014) deconstruct the very nature of the moving image and its means of presentation, investigating narrative structure, representation, transformation and the history of cinematic worlds through various devices that reference both digital and analogue production. Their most recent video Erdkunde (2015) playfully connects out from the studio into the “real” world. By encompassing a world of things it causes us to reconsider the sculptures on show and the geography these suggest, an essential optimism within the futility of ongoing attempts, a testament to our ability to overcome obstacles, to forge ahead for a better world.
Long has Wood and Harrison’s work being concerned with the body, characteristically employing a vocabulary that connects into the spatial concerns and material world of choreography and contemporary dance, and is a practice that engages with attributes such as trust, cause and effect, action and reaction, and the physical arena and dimensions in which movement and gesture occurs. To this end, alongside the exhibition we will premiere a major new live performance later this year, a first for Wood and Harrison, who are working with Ballet BC to develop an ambitious joint commission, a new dance work, complete with movement, direction, costumes and staging.
The art-dance commission is produced in collaboration with Ballet BC with support in part from the Kickstarter community in partnership with Art Basel Crowdfunding Initiative.