Thursday, March 20, 2008

Eric Bainbridge: "Anxious Object" STORE, London

Anxious Object

Eric Bainbridge, Carl Plackman, Pamela Rosenkranz

21 March – 3 May 2008

PV Thursday 20 March 2008

“Some people appear to move and act as if they were completely at ease in the world. I have always felt ill at ease; my body fitting as awkwardly as my clothes, the spaces in which I move just that little too empty or full, the air too hot or cold.

Some people seem to have confidence, others are always uncertain, constantly attempting to find their own space in the world - questioning their identity.

Things are never what they appear to be.”

From the early twentieth century artists have been drawn to objects that are disquieting or disruptive. Duchamp's readymades undermined habitual responses to material culture by a simple if unsettling shift of the context in which an object is viewed. Artists associated with Surrealism created artworks by connecting disparate objects together: Lautrémont's conjunction of the umbrella and the dissecting table seemed to undermine the rationality of the modern, industrial world. In the late 1960s Harold Rosenberg coined the term ‘Anxious Object’ to describe works that appeared to deliberately undermined their own status as ‘art’ – for example Warhol’s Brillo Box. In each case, there seems to be a desire on the part of the artist, to arouse feelings of anxiety in the viewer by disturbing ideas of conventional visual perception.

This exhibition at STORE revisits the idea of the ‘Anxious Object’ by presenting works made from the 1970s to the present day by three artists; Carl Plackman (1943 – 2004), Eric Bainbridge (b.1955) and Pamela Rosenkranz (b.1979). Each artist made or makes works which foreground the instability of the status of the object they have made. Each has produced works that draw together everyday objects in unsettling combinations and each intends to provoke angst on the part of the viewer. More generally the way these three artists use objects foreground ambiguity. Freed from any functional use, objects become unstable – instead of anchoring us in the world, they upset the accepted order of things.

"This unknowing, this suspicion creates a sense of unease which seems to govern the emotional undercurrents of our lives. Outwardly, it makes us manufacture seemingly stable patterns and habits which give us some sense of security. We often gather objects around us to help us do this.

But no objects are neutral."

(Quotations from from Carl Plackman’s unpublished notes, 1974, reprinted in Live in Your Head: Concept and Experiment in Britain 1965 -75, Whitechapel Art Gallery, London 2000, p.139)

27 Hoxton Street
London N1 6NH


Eric Bainbridge
Board, bored, bound, 1994
plywood, rope
145 x 67 x 16 cms