all images are copyright the artists

interim 2010 introduction by Jon Wood

Now then

Interim is a competition that invites 2nd year BA students who did their foundation course at Leeds College of Art to submit work for exhibition at their former college. It gives students a chance to make new work in a competitive situation, but within a familiar and supportive environment. As well as an invitation to exhibit work, it is inevitably, also, an invitation to think about the idea of returning (some have called it a ‘homecoming’) and an opportunity as much to re-envisage the recent past, as it is to try and show what the future might hold.

This is the third year that Interim has been running and what was striking for me this year was to see how a number of the proposals addressed this ‘past present’ dynamic, treating it almost as a subject in its own right. In keeping with this, many used repetition and fragmentation to create works that lead complex and ambiguous temporal lives. The fact that this is the first group of BA students who would have seen an Interim show whilst students at Leeds might have played a part in all this. They have already been the primary audience for the first ‘Interim’ in spring 2008 and experienced firsthand what this exhibition might mean for students at the college.

The work of seven artists is being shown. The proposals spanned media, with sculpture, painting, photography, film and sound deployed in ways that, though all visually different, intimated concerns which chimed with one another. Emma Connor (Slade) and the collaborative partnership Abigail Barr and Emily Victoria Dowler (Edinburgh) have made vocal sound pieces which unsettle our confidence in words and our reliance on them to stand for the things we know, remember and hold dear. Barr and Dowler take the children’s word association game and accelerates such associative thinking in a way that even the nimblest minded adult would find it difficult to maintain. This repetitive word sound becomes a kind of automaton-like, metronomic muzak: a soundtrack to walk up and down the stairs to. Around the corner on the ground floor you’ll encounter Connor’s roll call of her old student colleagues. The names have been distorted, suggesting that what they might stand for and her accompanying memories of them are changing with time.

Repetition also plays a crucial role in the painting of Megan Hoyle (Bath Spa) and Anna Rhodes (Glasgow). Rhodes’ hourly oil paintings capture (across 24 hours) momentary frames from an ever-changing skyscape, collapsing close-up with distance and giving a personal, almost diaristic quality to the overlooked movements that float past above. Hoyle works in series too, drawing our attention to the gradual build up of medium slowly dripped down lengths of canvas thread. Time and routine is demonstrated by these stalactite-like, sculpture-painting accumulations and like Rhodes, Hoyle captures things slowed down, encouraging us to do the same.

Catherine Jones (Goldsmiths) and the collaborative trio compromising Romany Dear, Ashanti Harris and Emily Ilett (Glasgow) have all deployed film in ways which draw our attention to compelling power of repetitive action to challenge our understanding of the meanings of basic human gestures and the lives lead by the objects that surround us. The latter have choreographed enigmatic movements through a forest, building on the striking blend of stasis and animation in Harris and Ilett’s earlier impressive Knocking on Wood. The theatrical staging of things is also employed indoors by Jones, who has set up an ensemble of monitors on plinths to help interrupt our will to subsume objects within familiar narratives. She uses film to create brief, mysterious moments for things, giving them strange, prop-like roles within episodes in unknown stories. Finally, the fragmentary account we get of things resurfaces in the montage strategies discernable in the work of Rachel Wilson. Wilson’s collages bespeak a curiously blunt and deadpan engagement with images widely circulating in magazines and on the net, suggesting that subtle forms of interconnectivity can emerge from these sometimes repeated and often brutal combinations of displaced and de-contextualised images.

Jon Wood
Henry Moore Institute