Arts review: winter 2013

Amy Smith examines three key exhibitions that helped shape modern art this season

Laura Eldret: Rough Play

Over the last two decades, the way we interact with the gallery space has exploded beyond the ritual of a passive audience. Rough Play, the latest piece from Laura Eldret, invited viewers to engage in ‘rough and tumble’ and step into that quite different ritual of play-fighting. She created an environment with the tools necessary for a good clean play-fight: pillows and crash mats.

Watching people play-fight exposes those delicate social dynamics involved, the careful negotiation of personal space and often unspoken pact to never inflict actual physical pain. Eldret wants the piece to celebrate the importance of play-fighting in children’s development, and has produced a space to pay witness to the extraordinary exhilaration and personal growth courtesy of a bit of rough and tumble.

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Erwin Wurm: One Minute Sculptures

A woman hovers above the floor balancing only on a couple of oranges; a man is caught within chair legs; two felt tip pens stand to attention on a pair of shoes; and legs emerge from a large cardboard box. These are just a few of the surreal scenarios in Erwin Wurm’s photographic series, One Minute Sculptures. A mother and daughter stand unnaturally close in one image and there’s a delicious pause until you realise that they are both wearing one jumper. It’s pantomime. It’s farce. It’s mime. It’s very funny. At the beginning of the series, Wurm couldn’t afford traditional sculptural materials so used the objects that surrounded him. He encourages his models to quickly pose with everyday items and reveals spontaneous and inspiring flashes of creativity.

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Juneau Projects: I Am The Warrior

I Am The Warrior is a touring show that anyone can be involved in. It celebrates the drive to create, whether that be glass painting, wood etching, quilt making or miniature papier-mâché animals.

Artist duo Phil Duckworth and Ben Sadler, AKA Juneau Projects, relay an open invitation to residents surrounding the gallery space and continue to accept submissions throughout the run. As people drop off their creations, the show develops and transforms. In the London incarnation, a model of Battersea Power Station made out of toilet rolls and a jar of homemade chutney sat among 300 pieces.

I Am The Warrior is much more than an appreciation for ‘craft’. Juneau Projects’ democratic approach flattens out the hierarchy of the gallery and blasts definitions of who and what can be exhibited. A win for the everyday makers.

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