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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Exhibition Review: Curatorial Collective Circuit Wisely Present 17 Artists

In September 2010 Circuit Wisely presented their second exhibition in an undisclosed live/work space

Written by Emily Whitebread

You might not know it, shop sickness but you know Alain Johannes. Producer and artist extraordinaire, having previously produced and collaborated with the infamous Queens of the Stone Age; No Doubt, PJ Harvey, Eleven, and toured with the super group Them Crooked Vultures earlier this year, Johannes is renowned throughout many rock circles for his mesmerising guitar skills, which in March of this year had me caught in a spell during a musical intermission of the Crooked Vultures’ intense set. Thinking Johannes was a brave man to compete with the likes of Grohl, Homme and Jones, I was left blown away by his talent and unequivocal sound.

Making a stand in his own right, Johannes recently released his debut record Spark, co released with Dangerbird Records and Rekords Rekords, the latter label set up by fellow musical maestro Josh Homme of QOTSA and Them Crooked Vultures fame. This is definitely a family affair, and what an awesome family. Dedicating his debut record to his late wife and producing partner Natasha Shneider, fellow Queens of the Stone Age and Eagles of Death Metal collaborator, there is a great sense of magnitude, of heartfelt pain and strength that breathes through the tracks. First track and single Endless Eyes is a beautifully and eloquent tribute to Natasha, and sets the tone for the entire record. Johannes’ signature cigar box guitar creates such a definitive sound it’s refreshing to describe as innovative and enchanting. However stand out tracks include Return to You, which has an unashamed Beatles-esque tone to it, bringing an air of nostalgia and warmth to the record, which can’t be a bad thing.

The record stealing guitar crescendo of a masterpiece to my ears is the incredible Speechless, which builds with such classical and flamenco ferocity; it’s topped by Johannes’ elegant vocals that beautifully complete the ghostly track. Gentle Ghosts draws the record toward its close, but not without a trek through a sensory mind field that awakes the goose bumps scheduled for truly remarkable artists. There’s so much passion and raw emotion surging through Spark, its hard not to feel a greater sense of appreciation. Closing with Unfinished Plan, a classical guitar led cathartic and heartbreaking end to a brilliant debut. Spark shines and splinters through Johannes’ incredibly personal journey, and I’m pretty stoked to be along for the ride.

Alain Johannes’ Spark is for those who likes a bit of substance sprinkled over their desert rock desserts, a treat of a record that won’t turn sour the more you listen. Johannes brings light to the desert rock scene, which, though never fading, has now taken a new and brilliant direction.
Alain Johannes Spark

You might not know it, this web but you know Alain Johannes. Producer and artist extraordinaire, having previously produced and collaborated with the infamous Queens of the Stone Age; No Doubt, PJ Harvey, Eleven, and toured with the super group Them Crooked Vultures earlier this year, Johannes is renowned throughout many rock circles for his mesmerising guitar skills, which in March of this year had me caught in a spell during a musical intermission of the Crooked Vultures’ intense set. Thinking Johannes was a brave man to compete with the likes of Grohl, Homme and Jones, I was left blown away by his talent and unequivocal sound.

Johannes Alain Tim Norris

Making a stand in his own right, Johannes recently released his debut record Spark, co released with Dangerbird Records and Rekords Rekords, the latter label set up by fellow musical maestro Josh Homme of QOTSA and Them Crooked Vultures fame. This is definitely a family affair, and what an awesome family. Dedicating his debut record to his late wife and producing partner Natasha Shneider, fellow Queens of the Stone Age and Eagles of Death Metal collaborator, there is a great sense of magnitude, of heartfelt pain and strength that breathes through the tracks. First track and single Endless Eyes is a beautifully and eloquent tribute to Natasha, and sets the tone for the entire record. Johannes’ signature cigar box guitar creates such a definitive sound it’s refreshing to describe as innovative and enchanting. However stand out tracks include Return to You, which has an unashamed Beatles-esque tone to it, bringing an air of nostalgia and warmth to the record, which can’t be a bad thing.

The record stealing guitar crescendo of a masterpiece to my ears is the incredible Speechless, which builds with such classical and flamenco ferocity; it’s topped by Johannes’ elegant vocals that beautifully complete the ghostly track. Gentle Ghosts draws the record toward its close, but not without a trek through a sensory mind field that awakes the goose bumps scheduled for truly remarkable artists. There’s so much passion and raw emotion surging through Spark, its hard not to feel a greater sense of appreciation. Closing with Unfinished Plan, a classical guitar led cathartic and heartbreaking end to a brilliant debut. Spark shines and splinters through Johannes’ incredibly personal journey, and I’m pretty stoked to be along for the ride.

Alain Johannes’ Spark is for those who likes a bit of substance sprinkled over their desert rock desserts, a treat of a record that won’t turn sour the more you listen. Johannes brings light to the desert rock scene, which, though never fading, has now taken a new and brilliant direction.
Flyer designed by Russell Palmer

Two years since their first show in the basement of Shoreditch Town Hall, pharmacy Circuit Wisely presented 17 Artists in an East London live-work space. This second exhibition asked artists to respond to the location and ‘architecture’ of a residential building, store investigating its scope for possible comment on the contested geography of East London.

Emily Whitebread Stills from a Film (2010)

The artists work (of which I was one) had to be temporal and capable of negotiating the duplicitous communal spaces of the building, illness such as the car park, balconies, stairwells, lifts and terraces. Circuit Wisely made it explicit that the artwork was not to impinge on the everyday movement occurring within the building, pushing the artists to consider how their work would be installed without marking the building and it’s context within the geographical location.

The exhibition began on the ground level of the first stairwell, Mihaela Brebenel’s installation 1 to 7; G to 6A – Loose Ends invited the viewer to follow the woolen thread wrapped around the handrails and architectural piping. Mihaela’s work explored the notion of navigating a particular space – through externalising the internal sources of what one does and does not see upon entering a residential building.

Mihaela Brebenel 1 to 7; G to 6A – Loose Ends

Continuing upwards, I passed Richard King’s decorative installation and a burning red screen-print by Daniel Wilkins. However my attention was held by Ben Fox’sculptural shanty-town: Sublet City. The contrasting nature of the contemporary East London building and Fox’s fragile houses echo the rapid development of East London, where an organic mixture of old and new is being skewed by the rapid destruction of original property in favour of the new. Beautifully made from found materials, it is accompanied by ‘the house shelters day-dreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace.’

Richard King Untitled

Dan Wilkins Untitled (2008)

Ben Fox Sublet City

The next level was occupied by Will Jennings’ Portfolio. A critical reflection on the building’s owner and his vast property ‘portfolio’. The publication’s investigative text combined with photographic documentation of the property portfolio aimed to create a dialogue between shared landscape and the increasing capitalisation of the concept of home. It is rare that such an opportunity for a piece of work criticising the building is installed in the location that it is criticising. It was interesting to see the interaction and discussion this piece caused with the residence of the building presenting them with the opportunity to re-think their living space. A favourable comparison to make is Hans Haacke’s ‘Shapolsky et al., Manhattan Real Estate Holdings, a Real-Time Social System as of May 1,1971′.

Will Jennings Portfolio

After reading the Portfolio, I continue to walk up the stairs and see Richard King’s second ornamental piece. Hanging in the window, on the level above, the back drop being the East London Skyline, are three beautiful photographs by Alex Ressel.

Richard King Untitled

Alex Ressel A Three Frame Film

Natalie Dray’s ‘DIAL 2-2-4-9 AND POINT TO THE SKY’ a vinyl text piece standing opposite a comical 3D image Lost in Space. The image of a famous Robot appears to vibrate from the paper and into a form of hologram – this I am seeing without the help of 3D glasses.

Natalie Dray

After the completing the stairwell, I made my way to Charlotte Gibson’s Sitting Room Installation made my eyes pop! The collection of brightly coloured collages, furniture, lamps, china, jelly, plastic and string are arranged in such a way that the space inbetween them becomes more important through the string that attaches them, the water and jelly that resides in the objects and the shadows casted.

Charlotte Gibson Sitting Room Installation

Natascha Nanji’s A Tail of Two Cities occupied the lift in the second stairwell. The ceiling was covered with punctured black pvc, the work physically inserted itself into the lift, the gaping weight of the shells contained within the black fabric imposing itself upon the lift experience, transforming a banal everyday occurrence into something uncanny. On one journey a chattering couple walked in unaware of what was above their heads, until a shell grazed the top of the man’s head, alarming him and drawing his attention to the ceiling. A scene from a horror film perhaps?

Natascha Nanji A Tail of Two Cities

After coming down in the lift, I returned to the 5th Floor to find the walkway occupied by Zoe Paul’s Buoy and the terrace contained Susanna JP Byrne’s Cy Cartographer No. Sculpture. Standing tall, the sculpture looks out towards the city – reminiscent of a century guard, looking out over the London landscape. The copper wire felt referential of a school science project and the tripod’s brightly coloured poles appeared similar to the yard sticks used to measure playing fields during practical geography lessons.


Susanna JP Byrne Cy Cartographer No. Sculpture

Zoe Paul Buoy Photograph by Selvi May

Marnie Hollande’s performance piece Gas wowed the audience on the exhibition’s opening night. A figure emerged onto the walkway, her face covered by a shimmering midnight blue mask, the body cloaked in chiffon with attached balloons. Moving onto the terrace to continue the performance, the body and balloons struggled against both the wind and crowd. The exceptionally strong wind increased the movements of the performer moving within the constraints of her costume. At one point, balloons detached themselves from the costume and were carried into the darkness.

Marnie Hollande Gas

On reflection Jennings, Dray, Fox and Bryne’s pieces directly tackled the building’s geographical location. The other pieces included by Circuit Wisely responded more directly towards the architecture, whereas others echoed the idea of ornamentation. Personally, the importance of the exhibition, lay in tracing perspectives and making connections between the work within the building’s parameters. Circuit Wisely shift away from the stress and importance of individual works when umbrellaed into a singular meaning all too common with groups shows.

The exciting thing about Circuit Wisely is not just the diversity of work on display but the transition they have gone through as a collective of curators. The success of CWII were that the visitor appeared to be completely free to move about the building, but were fact deliberately manoeuvred to encounter the work in relationship to the various movements one can make within the space. The curation and choice of art works allows visitors to experience different environments and transports them from a block of flats to an interesting space for creative people to come together and display work. This show is successful as it is not constrained by the gallery space. It is a platform for the viewer to encounter works in different environments heightening their experience of viewing a group show – and this is the success of the Circuit Wisely curatorial team.

All Photographs by Circuit Wisely

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