Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Marcus Coates, Jo Coupe, and Laura Lancaster: "101 Tokyo Art Fair", Tokyo, Japan

For 101 Tokyo Workplace Gallery presents works by Marcus Coates, Jo Coupe, and Laura Lancaster that examine themes of spirituality, death, and nostalgia.

Marcus Coates HD Video 'Kamikuchi' (‘mouth of god’) 2006 was staged in Ikebukero a district of Tokyo as part of a larger festival produced by Ikebukero Arts Festival in 2006. Coates working both as shaman and artist invited the festival organisers to come up with a question that was important for this district of Tokyo (the question came from a meeting between the festival organisers and the regional city council) The question, put ‘live’ to Coates without prior knowledge, is "What can we do about illegal cycle parking?". Dressed as Marilyn Monroe in kitten heels and a necklace of money Coates takes his question through a shamanic ritual (backed by bird song and Drum & Bass!) where he communicates with animal spirits who he hopes will provide an interpretation.

Jo Coupe examines degenerative transformations and the fantastical, often using pseudo-scientific experiments and materials to investigate mystery and rationalism.
Heavily influenced by still life painting, transformation and mortality epitomized in 'Enough Rope' a sculptural piece which developed from an exploration into the processes of decay. A pile of decaying fruit, studded with electrodes, is generating its own electricity. This arrangement is placed on an ornate round table. The still life is wired to a clutch of buzzing cutting devices that over time, cut into the leg of the table supporting the fruit.

Embedded firmly within a tradition of figurative painting and portraiture Laura Lancaster’s subject matter is gleaned from abandoned memories to form an archive of the intimate and the banal. Through the act of painting and drawing Lancaster elevates those commonplace and overlooked moments of humanity that come to pass. Though intimate, sentimentalism is circumvented by the distancing effect of the mechanised formality of her process. The selected photograph is copied in one sitting in oil or acrylic to canvas or board of appropriate size, then catalogued and dated by day, month, and year, and indexed numerically within that day. All works are Untitled. Her choice of images can be unnerving: a wedding photo with the groom’s face cropped off by amateur camera work, under exposed interiors, a blurred Donald Duck, a faded formal group photograph, or the thousand yard stare of the young and the elderly. En masse Lancaster’s works form ambiguous and dislocated narratives of loss and melancholy. All becomes generic under Lancaster’s touch, her figures maintaining a slippery anonymity owing as much to the tactics of minimalism as to traditional technique.