Conflicted Memory at Alan Cristea Gallery
In an art world where much work is crash bang wallop in an effort to be seen, to shock and to make a visual impact, quieter and more subtle work can sometimes be overlooked. Not all art has to be bigger to be better, and work without big budgets and production lines can convey its message through a more simple and direct medium. Perhaps this is a convoluted way of describing a group exhibition with a consistent and restrained curatorial aesthetic; the works directly relate to each other, are more similar in conception than different, and combine varied voices to create a coherent message.
These are works from female artists who, despite coming from different places and situations, have the experience of living through war and conflict in common. The double meaning of the exhibition title is especially exemplified by the work of Adela Jusic, whose father was a Bosnian sniper killed by a Serbian sniper’s bullet. His photograph is overlaid by video of the artist drawing a red circle which turns out to be the location of the fatal wound. It’s a reflexive work showing the duality and divided loyalties of a family involved in conflict.
Ruth Goddard draws pages from South African children’s history books from the time at the end of apartheid. These revisionist texts quickly became obsolete, and the artist partly erases them to show how impermanent versions of history are. Nina Esber’s work examines nationalism by “disrespectfully” mixing up colours identified with particular countries and lining them up in paint tins, each nation sporting a pastel shade: powerful art that does exactly what it says on the tin. K. Yoland’s work shows two children, perhaps carrying a body. The image is repeated, each time more blurred, lost further into ambiguity, history and away from redemption. A photographic work from Christine Baumgartner shows superimposed children, their identity obscured in the anonymity which happens when individuals become lost in time.
A thoughtful show of work that is well put together, Conflicted Memory allows space for quieter voices to speak powerful art.
Conflicted Memory is at Alan Cristea Gallery until 1st June 2013. For further information visit the gallery’s website here.