Jay Rechsteiner and Siobhan Barr at WW Gallery
In a rather incongruous little space, WW Gallery has put together two exhibitions with a comparably light-hearted approach, but to rather different effects.
Jay Rechsteiner, or his purpose-built alter ego JAY GUN, has in not too subtle terms attempted to launch an emasculating attack on gun-toting bravado in the form of his most recent exhibition The Most Dangerous Man on the Planet.
The briefly amusing video that blares out of the headphones and assaults the viewer is a series of occasionally intelligent parodies of the infomercials that saturate American television, and the risibly conceited videos posted on YouTube by various men-children.
The point raised is undoubtedly a salient one: the celebration of guns is something that fundamentally stems from a boyish belief in the invincibility guns provide. And this would be a powerful message were the works depicted to have any bite. The homemade guns accompanying the video (there are 13) appear to have had a sum total of five-minute work devoted to them, and while there is an obvious commentary to be made regarding the childish constructions and the behaviour Rechsteiner critiques, it smacks of a lack of imagination.
This sense of being underwhelmed unfortunately extends to the “viewer participation” element of the exhibition – a BB gun with a target of Rechsteiner himself is set up and appears rather cathartic; however, the gun is broken and, in keeping with the rest of the work, something of a damp squib. That is not to say it is all bad. The room is small and as such promotes quick progress onto the second exhibition, Siobhan Barr’s Hello Friend.
This is a considerable improvement. A “self-confessed internet addict”, she focuses on the variety of electronic media through which we increasingly communicate (and in some cases seek solace in matters of serious moral turpitude). An extremely funny series, Autocomplete, documenting the top hits of Google searches for questions such as “is it ok to…?” produces some remarkable responses. Furthermore, the Multiple LOL work produced at least one smile. Similarly to Rechsteiner, Barr has employed a variety of media, with works including a poem, some inflatable dolls, and a cork board of personal ads powerfully discussing the parallels between the community provided by the Internet and its ironic by-product, isolation.
The telling difference between Barr’s and Rechsteiner’s works is that Barr has shown laudable diversity in her contribution and convincingly conveyed her sense of humour; Rechsteiner’s product is merely insipid.
Jay Rechsteiner: JAY GUN The Most Dangerous Man on the Planet and Siobhan Barr: Hello Friend are at the WW Gallery from 6th February until 2nd March 2013. For further information or to book visit the gallery’s website here.