Nick Crowe and Ian Rawlinson
At 25 Metres
16 November 2007 to 13 January 2008
FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology) presents a stunning series of major new video works by UK artists Nick Crowe and Ian Rawlinson looking at the complexities of faith in contemporary society.
FACT has commissioned three new video works; The Fireworks, The Name of God and Two Leprechauns. Also shown will be another significant new work, The Carriers’ Prayer, commissioned by Film & Video Umbrella. Continuing their interest in the symbolic and transformative potential of fire, Crowe and Rawlinson use the new works to examine cultural conventions, tensions and misunderstandings. Set against the contemporary climate of international conflict, these challenging yet subtle works are particularly pertinent and timely.
In three of the new commissions, Crowe and Rawlinson utilise different kinds of pyrotechnic device. The Fireworks presents the unrestrained chaos, noise and colour of a fireworks display set off in Gallery 1, the main exhibition space at FACT. The effect is of civic display, but trapped inside a cultural space –giving rise to a sense of a celebratory impulse denied and contained.
Meanwhile, more low-tech fireworks are used in The Carrier’s Prayer where everyday commercial plastic shopping bags are torn open and tied together to form ‘scally fireworks’. Set in a run-down chapel this work depicts a congregation of ‘lost souls’ igniting and whooping up to the heavens accompanied by a strange and eerie cacophony.
The Name of God, shows people from Liverpool representing the three main Abrahamic faiths facing the camera and writing the name of God using hand-held sparklers. The word disappears and has to be re-written, serving as a metaphor for the understanding of religious faith as an active state which requires continual affirmation from the believer.
In Two Leprechauns – the artists depart in tone from the other works to present a more darkly humorous and absurd take on cultural confusion and misunderstanding. Dressed as stereotypical ‘leprechauns’ the artists face one another, exchanging a series of common Hebrew and Arabic phatic greetings in cod ‘Oirish’ accents. Their utterances may be nominal pleasantries suggestive of peace and goodwill – Shalom, Keyfahalakah and Salam Alaykum -but the pair struggle to engage in any type of meaningful dialogue, an unhappy reference to belligerent religious conflict.
Since their collaborative partnership began in 1994, Crowe and Rawlinson’s projects have included Mugger Music, which was first shown in Manchester (1996) and was subsequently remounted for the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, New York (1997); The Happy Dog of Lambeth, City Racing, London (1997) and Project for the River Medlock, commissioned by Artranspennine, Manchester (1998). In 2003 they presented a major solo exhibition, Nick Crowe and Ian Rawlinson, at Manchester Art Gallery.