Saturday 21 Jan 2012, 20h00

Climb Like a Cucumber, Fall Like an Aubergine

Rhiannon Armstrong, Tobias Collier, Andrew Graham, Adam James, Adrian Lee, Mark Wayman, Laura Wilson

Performance from London.
Curated by Ali MacGilp

Doors: 20h00
Start: 20h30
Tickets at the door: € 6,-
Language: English

Mark Wayman will present his piece twice, once for free at 17h00 (meet outside W139) and once during the evening’s events.

Photo's: Sanne van Renesse

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Climb like a cucumber, fall like an aubergine – Syrian proverb

Artists from London will create performances in response to the context of W139; its historical buildings, prostitute windows, brown cafes and hordes of tourists. These site-specific works will emerge from the long-term, open-ended investigations of their practices. These artists all share a research methodology. They invite us to share the fruits of their observation and reexamine what we overlook. Their subject matter is belief and knowledge systems; physics, spirituality, capitalism, history, communication, town planning.

Two complimentary sensibilities shine through in these artists’ works. Adrian Lee, Adam James and Rhiannon Armstrong explore the taboos and unspoken laws of social interaction with humour and are by turns cynical, provocative and optimistic. They share a fascination with the commercial culture we are embedded in, its marketing and self-help strategies and those on the margins of society. Tobias Collier, Laura Wilson and Mark Wayman look poetically at the material or philosophical structures that underpin our society. With intense sensitivity they examine our physical surroundings, from architecture to the universe.

From London, it feels like the world is becoming a more tumultuous place. Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continue, ten years on from the events of September the 11th. Osama Bin Laden has been assassinated, there have been financial and natural disasters for much of the globe. The Arab Spring is a year old. In London people are concerned about the unelected, right-wing government, the recession and fierce cuts to public spending, which have impacted upon the arts, student fees and benefits. Protests, riots and looting, media phone hacking scandals, the tightening of immigration laws, royal weddings and the impending Olympics have also been at the forefront of people’s minds. Relations between the younger and older generations and confidence in politicians are at an all-time low. The domination of social media, such as twitter and facebook, alongside scripted reality shows produce anxiety that we are becoming dislocated from real human interaction.

Introduction to the performing artists:

RHIANNON ARMSTRONG’s practice is an ongoing series of performances entitled Instructions for Empathetic Living. Her work is centred on interaction, the use of unfiltered audiences and the idea of art as a tool for social change.

  • For W139 Armstrong is creating a new interactive performance drawn from her Archive of Things Left Unsaid. The audience are given access to the deepest darkest secrets of anonymous Londoners, collected over the last five years. This performance also launches a new international chapter for the Archive, with the opportunity for Amsterdamers to contribute their own testimonies to the collection.

TOBIAS COLLIER examines our subliminal relationship to space using the flotsam and jetsam of daily existence. He melds notions of the infinite with materials found in the kitchen cupboard, yoking together the materially contingent with the intellectually imponderable. Collier uses a variety of media; painting, drawing, sculpture and video, but his subject matter is consistent; man’s striving towards an understanding of the cosmos.

  • For W139 Collier will present the next installment of Anthropos his live tattooing of his body. He will first select a text to read then burn it to create the pigment which is inserted into the surface of his skin, adding to the ever growing constellation across his body.

ADAM JAMES works across the disciplines of sculpture, photography, performance and film, mixing traditional processes with slapstick and the observations of modern day social tragedies.

  • Adam James is performing with Andrew Graham. James and Graham will spend a week studying local marginal figures in the area surrounding W139. In a series of small interventions in the street, they will appropriate the physical appearance, costumes and gestures of these chosen characters, inverting the role of the spectator. The work will culminate in the gallery on Saturday night.

ADRIAN LEE works in video, performance and sculpture. He unpicks and reworks the trappings of a commercial culture, which form the background noise to our daily lives to explore these processes of communication and persuasion. His source materials include government health warnings, disclaimer small print, hand-written signs, brand mascots and shop fittings.

  • Lee’s performance for W139 takes the maxim ‘there’s no such things as bad publicity’ to its logical conclusion. Publishers, filmmakers and artists frequently court controversy, willing censors, religious groups and the self-appointed guardians of moral decency to ban or protest at their works. A lone figure will stand outside W139 his placard bearing the familiar message ‘Ban this Filth’. Is he really protesting at the work inside or is he a stooge, trying to provoke interest amongst the passing tourists seeking sex shops, window prostitutes and brown cafés?

MARK WAYMAN takes as his starting point the fabric, function and significance of a chosen location. Through an intense verbal description of it he spins an elaborate alternative version. The artist's meticulous monologues reveal the place’s miniature histories, disturbing our perception of what may previously have seemed familiar.

  • For W139, Wayman has created a new site specific performance. Occupy Amsterdam now has a much reduced territory on the Beursplein. For one night only, Mark Wayman will reclaim the rest of the square for Occupy and put back all the little tents, exactly as they were.

LAURA WILSON’s practice embraces sculpture, film, performance, drawing and installation. She often works directly with experts including architects, archeologists, developers, scientists, brick manufacturers or campanologists.

  • Wilson will present a talk about Brick Project at W139, with a particular focus on the Amsterdam School, Michael de Klerk and the Brick Expressionism movement. Through her Winston Churchill Memorial Trust 2010/11Fellowship, she has researched indigenous masonry construction methods, bricklaying and brick manufacturing and architectural history in China, Peru and Holland.

ALI MACGILP, London-based curator, is currently completing a collaborative Ph.D. with Tate Britain. She is a founder and editor of and a regular contributor to Spanish art magazine EXIT Express. She has curated many exhibitions, screenings and performances.