British artist Edward Thomasson presents an exhibition of new works in the South London Gallery
s first floor galleries following six months as the inaugural Nina Stewart Artist in Residence in the SLGs Outset Artists Flat. The Residency is offered to a recent post-graduate from a UK art institution and is organised in partnership with SPACE.
The centrepiece of Thomassons show is a new video work, entitled Inside, accompanied by a series of drawings depicting scenes from workshops organised as part of the filmmaking process. The narrative brings together three scenarios which reflect ideas around the relationship between interior and exterior spaces, and the consequences of breaking through boundaries between the two.
Making references to the mind, body and buildings, Thomassons video is an extraordinary yet strangely plausible concoction of disparate scenes, presented in a style which draws on the grammar of British television. Shifting between prison and domestic drama, as well as footage of an acupuncturist applying needles to a patients back, the contrasting scenes in Inside are woven together through two central narrative threads: one focusing on a prisoner, the other on a couple who sing together as a man plays a guitar. Performed by a cast of professional and novice actors, the video doesnt quite fit into any established genre. There is functionality to the way the actors perform, suggestive of Thomassons underlying interest in the use of performance as a strategy for negotiating everyday life.
During a series of workshop-based sessions, Thomasson invited the performers to take part in various exercises loosely based on team-building games used in the workplace to promote self-expression and unison. For one of the exercises, participants had 40 minutes to devise performances responding to newspaper articles about home-owners who had been arrested for murdering intruders, and the resulting improvisations directly shaped the development of the video.
These strategies are typical of Thomassons approach. His collaboration with actors, musicians and singers is at the heart of his exploration of the role of performance in everyday life. Two drawing exercises, which were undertaken by workshop participants at the beginning of the project, are also used as key elements in the video when five female prisoners take part in an art therapy session. One woman reveals her thoughts through the drawings she makes, while a voice describes the difficulties she experiences in the expression of these inner feelings. Having set the tone for an investigation of public versus private space, the following sequence of unexpected situations and stories is crafted to ensure that the central themes are reinforced rather than lost, and the infinite capacity for one idea to lead to another is brought to the fore.
Thomasson graduated from the Slade School of Fine Art last year and was awarded the inaugural Nina Stewart Artist's Residency which began in October 2011. The residency offers a recent graduate accommodation in the South London Gallerys Outset Artists Flat, use of a nearby studio courtesy of SPACE and a solo exhibition in the SLGs first floor galleries.