Open Eye Gallery: STILL OUTSIDE (OR UNEXPLAINED)

Meurtrière (Dolomites), 2009 © Nicolas Milhé. Courtesy of Galerie Samy Abraham.

22 June – 2 September 2012

Meurtrière (Dolomites), 2009 © Nicolas Milhé. Courtesy of Galerie Samy Abraham.

 

Open Eye Gallery is excited to present Still Outside (or Unexplained), a group show
looking at how we imagine and interact with our surroundings.

Still Outside (or Unexplained) presents four artists, from the UK, France and
Switzerland. They share common ground, closely observing and reworking parts of their
environments that might otherwise be unseen or neglected. Using still and moving images,
they question what we see as natural and artificial, and what we think we know about the
world around us.

Pietro Mattioli’s (b. Switzerland) series Two Thousand Light Years from Home reveals a
hidden landscape in the artist’s immediate surroundings. Mattioli took these pictures at
night, as his child slept, over three seasons in 2006-7, never straying beyond the reach of
his baby monitor’s signal. Pools of light from his camera’s flash isolate and transform an
array of familiar objects. The project documents Mattioli’s nocturnal wanderings and
creates a catalogue of hidden beauty in the everyday.

Nicolas Milhé’s (b. France) work explores power, surveillance and the seductiveness of
images. Open Eye presents a 3 metre-long sculpture emblazoned with a gigantic image of
a tranquil Alpine landscape. Penetrated by a vertical arrow-slit aperture, it transforms the
gallery into a territory under surveillance and a place of potential violence. Here, Milhé
points to a sinister terrain behind the idealised image of the northern European landscape.
For him the image is a mask that conceals the harsher realities of contemporary politics.

In her video work Uncomfortable Silence i (2012), Rebecca Lennon (b. UK) meticulously
spray-paints white a series of objects selected from the detritus of a city street. The
gesture recalls the marks that mysteriously appear on roads before works begin, or the
white lines that mark the location of a corpse at a murder scene. Executed according to its
own enigmatic, ritualistic logic, each action reclaims and transforms its object. Rebecca
Lennon also presents a large-scale sound installation, This is what they built the ship with
(2011), in the high-tech, glazed concourse adjacent to the gallery. In what the artist
describes as a “call from the wild, in reverse”, the calls of seagulls, sampled from YouTube
and auto-tuned to assume an eerie perfection, will burst intermittently into the space.

Alison Stolwood (b. UK) takes a critical look at the idea of nature as something apart,
pure and picturesque. Her photographs highlight the ways in which time and perception
act on the landscape. They hint darkly at something that is both a product of our
interference with the environment, and elements of it that are beyond our control.

Stolwood writes: “I like to isolate a small part of our infinitely complex surroundings, in
order to think about the impossibility of understanding the whole. I use the lens as an aid
to observation and as a tool for manipulation, power and control.”

Open Eye was founded in 1977 in the former Grapes Hotel in central Liverpool. As well as
one of the UK’s first photography galleries, it housed darkrooms, film and video production
facilities and recording studios, which played a major part in Liverpool’s vibrant 1980s
music scene. The title for this exhibition, Still Outside (or Unexplained), is borrowed from
the B-side of a 7″ single by the new wave band Systems, published by Open Eye Records
in 1981.

ARCHIVE EXHIBITION
ERWIN WURM: ONE MINUTE SCULPTURES

Cult artist Erwin Wurm (b. Austria), whose followers include Flea from the US band the
Red Hot Chili Peppers, uses photography and film to capture transient sculptural works.
Since the late 1990s Wurm has been developing One Minute Sculptures, an ongoing
series in which we see the artist or his models pose in spontaneous ways with everyday
items, inserting pencils in ears, propping chairs on eyes, and bringing a host of inanimate
objects to life. Open Eye Gallery is proud to present a selection of eighteen photographs of
Wurm’s earliest One Minute Sculptures, made in the late 1990s.

“The fundamental steps consisted in abandoning the idea of durability and infinity.
Sculpture could also last for just a few minutes, a few seconds. The works were
transported to the level of the immediate present.” Erwin Wurm

Presented with both a good dose of humour and an underlying cynicism, One Minute
Sculptures question the definition of sculpture, and wider issues about our consumer-
focused society.