Glasgow Print Studio Gallery,
Glasgow International 2014 April/May 2014
Reproduction investigates themes of multiplicity, uniqueness and reproduction.
Alex Frost has analysed the points of intersection between image reproduction and human/social reproduction. The resultant artworks respond to both their immediate context of an exhibition within a specialist print studio complex and the social context of recently increasing birth rates in Britain (1) This continues on from previous works that address the particularities of the site – its location, its former use or its role within a community. He is not working from a critical distance but from a more conflicted position.
For Reproduction Frost presents a sculpture made from the debris of a stag/hen night reconfigured into an ‘adult fun’ Prometheus. This sits alongside a sculpture of a stack of paper constructed from sand and ‘impregnated’ with the love /trust hormone Oxytocin. Oxytocin is a powerful hormone which plays an important role in the neuroanatomy of intimacy. It also acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain and plays a huge role in pair bonding. This hormone is also greatly stimulated during sex, birth and breast-feeding. The artist purchased this hormone online as a body spray called ‘Liquid Trust’. It is expected that this sand sculpture will disintegrate as the water (and oxytocin) evaporates.
Additionally Frost has created a number of ‘screen rubbings’ including that of a dialogue between the old Skin Horse and the Rabbit in the children’s book The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams – a reference borrowed from ‘The Ecstasy of Influence – A plagiarism’ by
Jonathan Lethem (2) And additionally, ‘screen rubbings’ of Sherrie Levine’s 1979 rephotographs of Walker Evans’ depression era photographs of the Burroughs family, a family of sharecroppers in Alabama. Taken from Michael Mandiberg’s 2001 online art project.
A residency and exhibition at Walled Garden, Glasgow.
Four sand sculptures depict a classical-style ruin site within Glasgow’s Walled Garden. These temporary sculptures were installed on the footprint of an old bathroom within the site of the former cleansing depot in Glasgow city centre.
On a vacant ‘Stalled Space’ in Cowcaddens, Glasgow, beside the Forth & Clyde canal The Bothy Project set up a sculpture garden, bothy studio and events space. Throughout the summer of 2013 this Walled Garden hosted a series of artist residencies and events: www.thebothyproject.org.
Glasgow City Council created the ‘Stalled Spaces’ programme to “encourage temporary use of vacant land, under utilised open space and sites earmarked for development though stalled.”
“Whilst there is an obvious relationship to pop art products, what we are seeing here is not the abstract gleam of Campbell’s soup or the Coca-Cola logo, well-known to the masses, but a particular niche of class-informed life-support offered by Ryvita cracker biscuits, Optivita cereal and Rice Dream milk substitute. What these commodities promise is dieting, purity and health. Quiet restraint, subtle control, mind over body. There is also the matter of the sculptural materials themselves. Mosaic sits unevenly in contemporary art: it is both a traditional skill with a rich history, and its connotations of workmanship, but also an ‘arts and crafts’ process, often occupying unfashionable crafty women’s groups.
What is most striking, however, in the unease with which the depicted products become monumental. The very nature of the middle class lifestyle is somewhat private, quiet and cosseted. The dream of a private, walled garden. There is a price to pay for this, however. For why should anyone care about a cosy private life? A similar sensation is felt in Douglas Coupland’s ‘Generation X’ (1991) when a character, who has attempted to ‘opt out’ of the contemporary treadmill of his generation of America, returns home for Christmas. Trying to give his family a valuable gift that is unrelated to commerce, he fills the living room with thousands of candles. The family are overwhelmed and happy, but there is a problem. Life too quickly reverts to normal: “It is a feeling that our emotions, while wonderful, are transpiring in a vacuum, and I think this boils down to the fact that we’re middle class. You see, when you’re middle class, you have to live with the fact that history will ignore you. You have to live with the fact that history can never feel sorry for you. It is the price that is paid for day-to-day comfort and silence. And because of this price, all happinesses are sterile; all sadness go unpitied.”” Excerpt from ‘The Dangerous Supplement’, Laura McLean-Ferris, Wound 6, April 2009.