Another pairing of amazing exhibitions at the Serpentine Galleries has just opened. At the Serpentine Gallery there is a show of Jimmie Durham’s work which is captivating (Main pic, Durham with ‘Sweet, Light, Crude’, 25 oil barrels sprayed with car paint). Durham uses film, writing and painting, often to make political statements, and this new show also includes early work that hasn’t been shown in the UK before. Called ‘Various Items and Complaints’, the show is varied and interesting and immerses you in his ideas and thoughts right from the start when you are confronted with sculptures which suggest airport scanning machines you can walk through. They are a statement about Europe’s free borders and the Calais migrant crisis.
Durham moved from his native US to Europe in 1994, and recently moved from Italy to Berlin. Since he moved to Europe his work sometimes challenges the idea of architectural statements embedded in Western culture, like the Arc de Triomphe. There is a really thought provoking film next to the moving sculpture (pic right) you might want to ponder. Oh, and a really poetic piece, Black Walnut. Worth buying the catalogue for a longer peruse at home.
Another exhibition on at the same time, over the bridge at Serpentine Sackler, shows two films with other-worldly soundtracks by New York video artist Rachel Rose. This is an excellent exhibition by what one expert described as “an artist to watch”. There are two films. The second one really stays with you, so settle down and watch the hailstones strike down on swimmers on a beach. The film explores sudden weather changes and our vulnerability. Rose says she made this work a year ago, a year after Hurricane Sandy caused flooding and chaos in New York’s streets. She says: “At the time I was really feeling a daily unease about this and I couldn’t get it out of my head. It’s just one example of things that are happening all the time. I felt a kind of urgency which was a way of bringing that feeling out – not politically and not morally but more from a place of feeling and structure because I didn’t feel there was a need for another political response to global warming.”
It’s a mesmerising film to watch and listen to and centres around the Glass House in Connecticut (pic left). “I was interested in glass and I started looking at the history of glass and the use of glass in architecture. I was looking at modernist styles and from there I came to the Glass House which became the symbol for the international style which precipitated the way that the high rise and so on are now designed in so many places,” explains Rose. “I was interested in thinking also about glass a form of collage. When you feel these weather conditions it can feel as though something has been collaged into your experience, like something’s here, now it’s not here. It wasn’t here, now it is here, it’s like a cut and paste thing which is how an edit is formed. It’s a kind of collage and how glass functions as a kind of collaging, multi-distances and also the outside and inside into one surface, so that’s something else I was working through in the piece.”
On 8th November Rose will discuss visual and sound techniques with Oscar-winning editor and sound designer Walter Murch. The conversation, presented in collaboration with mubi, will be followed by a screening of the 1974 film, The Conversation (directed by Francis Ford Coppola), starring Gene Hackman and edited by Walter Murch.
Both exhibitions are only on for a month and don’t forget the galleries are closed on Mondays, Both really worth going to see, from now until 8th November serpentinegalleries