Oh rattle, rattle
TALLINN – 24.11 – 11.12.2021
Visiting exhibitions for me is an exercise in reading – visual reading. And I mean exercise in the sense of work, practise, going to the gym. For that reason, I never read the artist statement or exhibition text until I have finished the workout, and that means that sometimes the text is a total surprise to the extent that I cannot for the life of me understand the connection between the text and the exhibition. When this happens, I often experience a double take and wonder whether I have picked up the wrong text – the one for the last exhibition, perhaps.
This week took me to Draakon Gallery in Tallinn’s Old Town, where I saw an engaging exhibition by the artist duo Gloria Hao and Madlen Hirtentreu called Lost Future Figure – Oh whistle, and I’ll come to you, my friend.
On entering the gallery, visitors are confronted by a variety of objects on the floor mostly made using different ceramic techniques and mostly grouped within islands of loose soil that look a little like what happens when a mole or some other subterranean creature ventures to the surface. Some of the objects are ceramic renderings of recognisable things like seashells, a turtle or slightly less recognisable marine-like creatures or plants.
One of the soil islands towards the back of the gallery supports a machine, like a model of some extractive tool – a pump from an oilfield perhaps. However, the machine is clearly pointless as it whirrs round and round and up and down without having any impact or output. The rattling of its gears and metal parts provides the soundtrack for the entire exhibition (so sometimes I need to do some audio reading as well), and then the coin drops, and I start to read the whole installation as yet another post-human dystopian future. Is this the artists’ vision of what might be left behind – animals and vegetation that time forgot, and that humanity had inadvertently spared in its over-extractive and ultimately suicidal purge. The rattle echoes and marks time, and the various objects – creatures, mutations, remains – take on a hint of pathos.
And then there is the exhibition text, which talks of how a nun experiences the world after having been closeted away, shielded from the world, unaware of what mankind is up to beyond the abbey (sic!) walls. The text is clearly written and sets out to explain the artists’ aims, but to my mind there seems a mis-match. Not that there is no overlap or connection at all, but its main value as an exhibition text is actually that it seems like it would suit a slightly different exhibition. This dislocation could be viewed as a flaw, or alternatively that it functions to save the exhibition from seeming over-thought (another unfortunate effect of ill-conceived supporting texts).
In any case, the show is worth seeing and worth giving time.
On until 11 December.
Lost Future Figure – Oh whistle, and I’ll come to you, my friend
24 November – 11 December 2021
18 Pikk tänav
Post by Michael Haagensen
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