Fatma Bucak, Larisa Daiga, Evariste Maïga and Samuel Williams
Cooper Gallery; DJCAD
18 January 2013 - 16 February 2013
Estrangement, showing in the Cooper Gallery until the 16th of February, is an exhibition offering us images inspired by a sort of disconnection from the world. Estrangement can convey itself in many different forms; it can speak to the individual, the collective alienation of humans to themselves, or to a place or situation in life. Every one of the four artists involved in this show portrays this idea of estrangement in their own way; but each finds a way to make alienation and hostility exciting and even somewhat invigorating.
Fatima Bucak, Larissa Daiga, Evariste Maïga and Samuel Williams have contrasting styles, though all are focused on video art. Bucak and Maïga introduced their work at the artist talk and exhibition preview. Bucak’s piece “Blessed are you who come” shows a group of elderly villagers hesitantly taking oders from Bucak herself as she floats around directing them. During this performance, a few of the villagers seem frustrated and begin to argue with each other as to why they are even there in the first place. For Bucak, this was all part of the performance; their reactions, whatever they turned out to be, were part of the art itself. When pressed about her work at the artist’s talk, she said that artists often don’t know every little thing about their work, and it is with the help of audiences that they are able to look at the deeper meanings and themes behind their art.
Maïga had two pieces in the show: Improvisation and Joy and Not Standing Still. Maïga’s work usually takes the form of sculpture or installation. These are the first two videos he has ever produced in his art practice and are personally the most interesting. The use of an empty white room, with a very energetic artist dancing to an electro style piece of music, reminded me of someone being shut off from the world around them. Improvisation and Joy elicited in me a feeling of escape when I watched it. I felt divorced from everyone else in the crowded room, mesmerised by the artist and his representation of this carefree character moving in an enclosed space. I found this piece to be very compelling in particular. Both of Maïga’s works in this exhibition have been selected for 2013’s Bloomberg’s New Contemporaries, which is a leading UK organisation supporting emerging artists from British art schools.
Larissa Daiga’s work in this collection, as with her other works, explores the object/user relationship, especially when an object becomes independent and floats free of its creator. In Estrangement, the object is a ceramic sphere. Three films all use this same item, which adds to the simplicity of the work as a whole. While I did feel somewhat hypnotised by these films, I also felt, personally, that the rolling and clattering of the spheres were a little repetitive.
Samuel Williams’ piece, Natural Habitat,showed a series of cameras being dragged and carried around a number of different rural areas. In this film, technology (cameras) did not need the human interaction as they were being pulled along by nature itself. The division of technology from the rest of the world, its collision with different environments engages with viewers in interesting ways.
As a collection of work of four contrasting artists, Estrangement explores the idea of alienation and hostility in intriguing and alluring ways.