Herman’s Art Barn
Upstairs inside a renovated agricultural barn, we find works imagining the remains of a scarred culture. Human figures are discarded or altered to the edge of recognition by environmental catastrophe or radical ‘self-care’. There is a glut of materials: hundreds of hand-shaped plastic bottles splurge out of a sack, skin-coloured steering wheels and used clothing, reminding us of hundreds of human bodies, hundreds of hours of labour, and the weight of the environmental resources these have used up.
Josh Kline is known for creating sculptures, installations and video works that show his concern about how technological innovations impact humans, and that critique our consumerist culture. His work Your Driver is Here reinforces Kline’s vision of humans becoming interchangeable with appliances. Kline’s artistic practice is also concerned with climate change and global warming. The trolley overflowing with plastic bottles in 99% Recyclable (2016) highlights that our economy is based on systematic exhaustion, and how materials – and humans – are often treated as throwaway.
Anna Uddenberg creates sculptures that question and distort traditional narratives of femininity, creating an exaggerated representation of contemporary womanhood. In PDA (2016), Uddenberg’s figure is balanced with a stripped-back Stokke designer pram, asking us to consider how the most natural relationships can be amplified to become performative under the constraints of a capitalist society.
Occupying the centre of the space is a section from a multi-part installation by Manish Nai. It is produced from hundreds of items of clothing compressed into square rods and arranged in stacks to create brightly coloured ‘minimalist’ arrangements. Although his works, which use found materials, may evoke notions of recycling and circularity, Nai is more invested in exploring materiality itself.
The two Nature Paintings (Archipelago) (2009) and (Styx) (2011) are part of a series Keith Tyson has been working on since 2006 and explore how art translates the complexity of the natural world. Achieved by chance, the paintings are formed by reactions between specially mixed paints and chemicals poured at different angles and temperatures onto an aluminium plate. The result is an almost hypnotic spiralling web of galaxies of all shapes and colours, reminiscent of geological formations and constellations
Renaud Jerez uses soft sculpture to address dystopian themes and aesthetics. The sculpture BDS (2015) is a barely recognisable cyborg body is created of conduits and burnt fabrics; the teetering networked being seems to have stepped out of an animated computer game. On the other side of the room, a soft red seat has morphed with a crustacean in the 2016 work sans titre (When Tania arrived home). These hybrid beings continue Jerez’s investigation into the future of identity in the digital age.
Rebecca Ackroyd’s practice involves digging down into existing objects and memories and reconfiguring them into something new. Her installations offer dreamlike fictional landscapes informed by tough realities. Through shifting scales and moods, from the arrestingly bold and absurd to the subtle and intimate, her work pursues a feminist exploration of the psychology of space and the ownership of bodies.
Katja Novitskova is known for her dramatic, cut-out images of animals at play with representations from financial and scientific sources. Using the distinctly corporate aesthetic of stand-up aluminium signage, Novitskova investigates how ‘the media’ constantly defines and redefines the world in which we find ourselves, and how art, nature and commerce are richly and shockingly intertwined.
Miroslav Balka’s work is characterised by a bare simplicity and an emotional rawness, created by the tension between the formal or inherent properties of the materials he brings together. Here his small sculpture 120 x 136 x 44 (2007) resists interpretation; the bare low-wattage bulb that barely registers in the summer months becomes differently inflected over a long dark winter.
In his paintings and sculptures, British artist Toby Ziegler plays with human perception and the ways in which we receive, transfer and lose information. He alludes to the processes by which images, icons and artefacts become eroded and are reproduced across historical periods and translations between different media. Ziegler’s sculptures explore the tension between two- and three-dimensional representations, hollowness and mass, the mundane and the exotic, while playing with the mapping of constructions in space. Ziegler has filled the lower floor of the Art Barn at Herman’s with The Alienation of Objects (2010-12), an installation centred around five sculptures composed of oxidised aluminium triangles displayed on bespoke wooden structures designed by the artist. The installation was originally commissioned for exhibition at the Zabludowicz Collection’s London home, from where it toured to the New Art Gallery, Walsall, and Kiasma, Helsinki. It has been entirely reinterpreted for this purpose-designed space.