The third and final iteration of S1 Artspace’s Construction House trilogy opened in mid February, rounding up an exciting and innovative Bauhaus-inspired series in the new Park Hill gallery space. The final exhibition features work by Peter Martin and Jon Cannon, Emily Musgrave, and Joseph Cutts. Each take a closer look at the approaches that artists at the Bauhuas took towards materials and their potential across art and design.
Joseph Cutts presents a series of new films framing key processes in steel manufacturing and glass blowing, the former being synonymous with Sheffield’s industrial heritage. The films themselves are visually sensual, playing with the relationships between the hand-made and the mass-produced – something which was key to many of the Bauhaus teaching methods in the early 1920s. Cutts’s work seems to be heavily influenced by one of the masters of the Bauhaus in particular: Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, who produced a number of pioneering films that take a macro look at ambiguous pieces of material and machinery moving across the screen and dancing in the light.
Emily Musgrave’s two new works flirt with both being a painting and a sculpture, but never quite settle on either. Musgrave’s works are often subject to a constant making process whereby she applies and removes chemicals, paints and pigments, along with adding and repositioning additional fragments. It could be said that the exhibition itself punctuates the artist’s making process, thus deciding when the work is complete and ready for presentation. The stillness of Musgrave’s wall works sits perfectly alongside Cutts’s moving image work, and emphasises the calming nature of the exhibition as a whole.
Peter Martin and Jon Cannon have collaborated on a new work that asks probing questions as to what is the radical material of today. Martin and Cannon have taken the internet as their material of choice, acknowledging the importance of treating something like the internet with similar principles that you would any physical material. The two artists have cleverly dreamt up a world where our endless social media scrolling, updating and posting has a time out. Across three screens, they imagine holding pages for Twitter, Instagram and Facebook that prevent you from logging in at particular times of day, thereby forcing you to have a period of abstinence. It’s a poignant work that highlights our dependence on social media along with opening up new potentials that could occur if we begin to view these formats as a mutable material – something they believe the pioneering artists at the Bauhaus would be doing if they were around today.
The exhibition is calming and serene, and a timely way to end the trilogy. Rather than a bombastic crescendo it feels contemplative and outward looking, prompting questions that are relevant to today and that will stand the test of time.
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- David McLeavy
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