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19.09.2008 - 31.10.2008, Karlsruhe
WE REQUIRE A RESPONSE
We are pleased to present ‘We Require a Response’, Scott Myles’ first solo exhibition in Germany. The Scottish artist is engaged with human behavior and interaction in manifold ways, in this instance, he employs a concrete socio-economic event as a starting point. In his transmedial formulations it is often the form itself which carries the meaning of his works. Based on an attempt to overcome demarcation, Scott Myles’ artistic spectrum ranges from painting to sculpture and photography, through to site-specific all encompassing installations; he integrates performative elements which foresee the viewer as a part of the work, in the process of active reception. His situational and (socio-) symbolic visual language is characterized for the most part by a narrative element, which draws through the specific, designated context of the exhibition, similar to the process of telling a story.
For his exhibition at Meyer Riegger, Scott Myles makes reference to Karlsruhe and the surrounding region, simultaneously observing links to his hometown of Glasgow. In connecting places and events within his artistic practice seven new works were created, which relate from individual positions, but voice a polyphonic commentary.
The twenty-four part photo series ‘STABILA’ comprises the reproduction of court production evidence, which Myles obtained from a lawyer in Glasgow. The photographs have been printed in a tonal range of grey scale ranging from white through to black. They document a series of injuries to a man’s body inflicted by another man wielding a spirit level, during an argument on a construction site in Glasgow. Tagged with an alphabetical index, these images fragmentarily depict the traces of the assault. Myles’ interest is in the conversion of a tool designed for achieving balance, to a weapon, thereby negating its ascribed function. The tool used in the crime was a ‘Stabila’ brand spirit level, produced in Annweiler by Trifels near Karlsruhe. By coincidence the man depicted in Myles’ artwork had also lived in Karlsruhe for six months as an intinerant labourer in 1981 working as a bricklayer while building the architecturally postmodern Heinrich-Hübsch-School. Twenty-seven years on, he now returns to Karlsruhe, as a phantom, within the framework of a photodocumentary portrait study. That Karlsruhe is known as the German seat of law is also relevant (the City is the location of Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court and the Federal Court of Justice). As an interface between these events and their portrayal in our gallery, the location Karlsruhe and the action as it were prevail, manifested in Myles’ work through the captured shadow of this anonymous man.
‘WORKS (Scenes Unseen)’ makes reference to instructional signage, which Myles has previously used as a medium within his practice. WORKS has been printed, overlaying an earlier screenprint; ‘Scenes Unseen’. The word ‘works’ becomes a kind of determiner, because the artist denotes the everyday term as a symbol, transforms it and finally establishes it as an autonomous and indicative image. The tableau panel functions as a sign, and in this case specifically as an imperative, satirically directed against the play-off of disciplinary power.
With regard to the laws of probability theory Myles created the sculpture ‘Law of Large Numbers’. The work involves two panels, installed at a 90° angle, camouflaged in a way, with marbling and screenprinted as a stone wall. The freestanding sculpture is furnished on one side with an opening shaped like a door. Clad in marbled and screenprinted aluminum panels, this temporary architectural work stands as an autonomous object within the room, yet also appears as a prop, reduced to its essential aspects - due to its open construction - which corresponds to the brick building of the Heinrich-Hübsch-School. Although this structure created by Myles has no concrete function, it exists as a paravent-like element, metaphorically marking a breach within a system.
Myles has produced a new series of ‘unshelf’ sculptures that appear acrobatically aligned, their reciprocity of statics and dynamics receive a fundamental function as constitutive elements. Not only juggling with contrariness, but also the ambiguous handling of words and their meaning becomes the subject of contemplation: thus ‘unshelf’ can be read as a construct from the terms “shelf” and “un-self”. The conscious renunciation of the function of an object based on function is to be understood as a sort of affront that deals with the dogmatism of pure effectiveness (as in modernism and minimalism) – with the statement that form doesn’t rest upon a static system, but adapts to a given situation, and so constitutes a variable. The authenticity of the object, then, resides not in the absolute consistency of a design unit, but in the consideration of a specific context – which finally results in the respective form or formula.
Myles layers these materially reduced sculptures with a multicoloured decorative marbling pattern, that mimics the method used in traditional marbling processes. His artistic model for this marbling method was, among others, the applied imagery found on book end-papers and the marbled page found in “The Life and Opinions of Tristam Shandy, Gentleman”- a nine-part novel written in the 1760s by the English author Laurence Sterne. Myles’ interest in this novel is due in part to its associative style and nonlinear narrative structure, which counts as a harbinger of experimental literature.
Myles’ window sculptures prove that colour can be the feature of an illusory staffage. The painting itself denies the viewers their view, but offers them insight into the artist’s point of view. The overlapping colour gradient from white to black not only marks an expressive shading of the underlying primary colours red, yellow and blue, but also makes opaque the mirroring surface of the window panes – ergo the narcissistic worship of the self. Like a winged altar the image opens up through the mobile side pieces and becomes a tangible object within the room, thereby overcoming the two-dimensional rigidity of a panel in favour of the feel of a tangible entity.
In unifying various points of view and temporal paradigms Scott Myles avails himself of the possibility of an entwined narrative structure, which allows the layering of temporal and spatial levels and leads to a dialogical process in the action of reception. The transversal legibility dispenses his works from any syntax whatsoever, yet declares them as binding propositions through their reference to a concrete situation. His pieces are reception and reaction simultaneously, articulated between the determinable and the transformable, and in consequence are assertions. Ultimately it is not only the intention of the artist, but the task of the viewer to integrate structures and ideas in these spatial situations performatively to receive an answer to the answers Myles has already given – at least that is what is handwritten with black ink: “WE REQUIRE A RESPONSE”.
Translation Zoe Miller
1 of 22, back - next
Law of Large Numbers, 2008
powdercoated steel, paint & screenprint on aluminum
170 x 140 x 46 cm