Friday, 14 October 2011

Six Colourful Tales from the Emotional Spectrum (Women), Jen Liu and John Balderassi – Ceri Hand Liverpool

It's actually a nice day, which makes the walk to Ceri Hand quite pleasant. Once I'm there and I've been let in and given the appropriate pieces of information I enter the space part of which is given over to the curtained box which means there's a video piece playing within. Instead of pushing aside the curtain and only partly ignoring the female American accent I stand in front of one of Jen Liu's collages. Already the dim process of my mind has picked up on the floating geometric shapes, primary colours and washy figures, so I take a closer look and see watercolour impressions of glamour girls leaning against blocks of colour along with orbs of colour full of sinister shadows. I don't feel I have anything more to add to my initial impressions.

Is this my failing? In retrospect I have trouble in reading them, whether to see them as part of a classical tradition of collage, throwing disparate pieces together to create new meanings, or as a conceptual appropriation of those techniques. Maybe it's wrong of me to think about them in that way, I could be taking this all too seriously equally they could be a sense of humour here as the piece Blue Balls suggests ( I can't bring all this together and I wonder if all that time at art school was worth it. Along with the smaller piece there are larger watercolour pieces in which draw on the lurid and titillating paperback covers and the over excited movie posters of the 70's and 80's. Like those posters the larger watercolours have seem to taken elements of a narrative and inflamed with titles like 'Caught in the Act' and 'Green Horn – Guerrilla Warfare School' of course they make promises they don't have to deliver.

Then I push aside the curtain and enter the film box to be greeted by an uncomfortably framed head on a TV screen backed by a lurid red background, this is the source of the female voice that has been accompanying my time here. This Balderassi's Six Colourful Tales from the Emotional Landscape. The disembodied head is providing a narrative for a kaleidoscope of images of stuffed birds and reflections in polished marble, which leads to images of a woman being stalked through grand corridors. Having read about the exhibition info before coming I know there are references to the Italian horror film movement of Giallo and I do wonder if these are scenes from Dario Argento's Suspiria ( there's no bikini clad woman cavorting in front of a woolly mammoth in Suspiria!

Anyway while watching these vignettes I can see, or at least I assume that these are the images that have sprung into her imagination while listening to the confessional tales from the emotional spectrum. This throws up more interesting images then the drawings, for example Jen Liu being led by lace rope through empty night-time city streets. Watching the film I begin to understand not only the source of the Liu's film but of the drawings as well, the exhibition can be considered to a work in itself rather than a collection of smaller pieces, not seeing the film first meant that I didn't make that connection, that all the pieces on show where part of a singular process.

Which raises the issue that would the individual pieces have an independent live away from the process they were created through. I don't think any art can.

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