Sunday, 17 July 2011

Second Star to the Right and Straight on Until Morning

Ben Rowe - Second Star to the Right and Straight on Until Morning

I finally got to see Ben Rowe's solo show, Second Star to the Right and Straight on Until Morning at Mission Gallery in Swansea this weekend, it closes on 24 July  so there is only a week left to catch it. 

The craftsmanship involved in the making of his MDF recreations of futuristic machines from iconic 1980's films is incredibly impressive. There is an obsessive focus involved in his working process, it can take him many months to create one of his sculptures in all its minute detail. 

The blandness of the material is unsettling, Rowe uses it to speak about the futility of escapism - the fictional machines he references often involve some kind of travel, but the uniformity of their construction in his hands and their ultimate uselessness denies the fantasy. The effect is somewhat dystopic, it does not bode well somehow for our society. Ultimately we have to stand face-to-face with the existential reality of ourselves in our world with all the frustrations and yearnings that involves but with little control over its mechanics.

Perhaps this is the purest kind of gesture an artist can make (and perhaps it is only artists that CAN make such a gesture) in confrontation with this unbearable futility of being.

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