Saturday, 11 October 2008

For Those Killed in Ambush - Robert Dingle

For Those Killed in Ambush is an exhibition exploring different conceptions of failure, lack, error, doubt and uncertainty. The exhibition does not attempt to present an anthology of unrealised works, as is the case with Joel Fisher’s The Success of Failure, Sam Ely and Lyn Harris’s archive of Unrealised Projects or Hans Ulrich Obrist and Guy Tortosa’s Unbuilt Roads: 107 Unrealised Projects. Neither are the ambitions of the exhibition the selection of works that attempt to directly represent failure (Janne Lehtinen’s Scared Bird) or attempt to define what is particular to it. Rather, For Those Killed in Ambush offers an interplay of diverse works that orient our attention towards addressing questions that arise from these differing conceptions, creating areas of overlap and interruption between them. Can failure be productive? Failure, lack, error, doubt and uncertainty are often held contrary to our socially established endeavours for greater success and self-satisfaction. Attempting to determine or define these terms ends more often in paradox than resolution or clarity. For instance, to strive to fail adequately fulfils both registers, as it is simultaneously contradictory and goes against the socially established normality. In Three Dialogues, published in the journal Transition, 1969, Beckett pronounced failure to be the inevitable outcome of artistic endeavour, he went further to articulate that the artist should make ‘this admission, this fidelity to failure, a new term of relation.’ In Stephanie Bolt’s No Show (2008) the attention to the brightness of the florescent light is immediate; the consideration of the undersized text in the centre reveals itself gradually in increments only on approach. No Show takes its title from a previous realized-unrealized project where the artist placed an advert in a-n magazine requesting an open submission for a ‘No Show’. Through the reference within the title to Bolt’s previous project the work interweaves questions of production and uncertainty, possibility and refutation, elucidation and senselessness. No Show considered in relation to the open submission investigates the productive space within the act, but only when the conjectural possibility of failure has been removed from the process in spite of whether the act itself is a negation of the terms that usually define or qualify it. Contrasting failure as a hypothetical possibility with the reality of lack and degradation of suburban areas forms the basis of Alexander Page’s Edge of Town (2008). The series of photographs depict the drab and dowdy periphery of the city. Places where things become broken and over grown. A landscape of weeds and warehouses in which the inevitable marks of entropy represent both a sign of degradation along with the increasing uncertainty of potential development and urban renewal. Offering a distinct and divergent line from the realism represented in Edge of Town is Claire Scanlon’s I’ll keep coming back to you, where the production and operation of the work causes the direct deficiency of the essential component (7” 45rpm vinyl). Permitting the inevitable self-destruction and the works ability to ‘function’, the possibility of failure becomes a self-assessed and calculated consideration of the work; a reversal in which its ability to last would be deemed unexpected. There is a productive and generative force behind notions of failure, lack, error and uncertainty and the presence of these ideas are essential components not in ensuring mediocrity, but in generating questions rather then providing answers. Without the risk of failure, the possibility of error and a sense of uncertainty we run the risk of entering into closed systems that would become dogmatic. We would cease to test, explore and loose the potential to stumble across the unexpected. @ Robert Dingle, 2008

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