Records Played Backwards
The Modern Institute, Glasgow, until Sat 10 May
Just like the teenager in the 80s playing his or her Iron Maiden records in reverse while hoping to hear Satanic messages, the artists in this group exhibition busy themselves trying to find possibly absent meaning within the margins of the media. Like Matias Faldbakken, whose ‘Newspaper Ad #19’ blows the blank space where an advert should have been placed on a newspaper page up to wall-sized scale. Or Michael S Riedel, who has reprinted an edition of Frieze magazine four times, each in only one of the four essential colours of printing. The result is an oddly-designed single colour scrapbook whose context is more or less arbitrary.
William E Jones’ film montages reference Peter Roehr, the German artist of the 1960s who spliced some few-second clips from TV commercials into infuriating loops which served to dismantle the film’s original meaning. Jones, impudently, has substituted placid commercials for homosexual porn, and images of such sexual frankness aren’t as easy to completely decontextualise.
Anne Collier, meanwhile, is a fan of comparative photographic diptychs, and the most instantly striking of her two pieces is ‘Woman with Cameras’, in which two German photographic hobby magazines of the 1970s are rephotographed next to each other. One cover features a model adorned tackily in denim, the other a frontally naked woman; the presence of photographic equipment in each image is there to be laughed at and recoiled from in turn, thanks to the sense of vacuous period affrontery.
It’s an amusing show, although archly so, curator Daniel Baumann has picked a selection of strongly conceptual works whose joke often remains well hidden. Explanation is required, for example, in the case of Celine Duval’s ‘Horizons IV’, a touching home video made of private photographs the artist has bought from persons unknown. Patience is needed with Seth Price’s ‘Longwall’, huge rolls of wall-mounted paper which discourse on video game soundtracks and long-forgotten pop music genres as though they were topics worthy of scientific evaluation. Often you might feel just like that kid with the backwards record, although the devil in each of these works will eventually make its voice heard.