Jennifer Lovemore-Reed exhibition

Remnants, Relics and Reasons by Jennifer Lovemore-Reed forms the second part of her artistic dialogy. Last year, Lovemore-Reed presented the performance piece Bag-lady, Clown, Sycophant at the Erdmann Contemporary.

This performance is said to have been inspired by the immense fear that the artist felt regarding public performance and her decision that confronting this fear would overshadow all of her other frustrations. The follow-up exhibition sets out to document the entire creative process and performance.The exhibition comprises a massive mind-map of the work, all the props from the performance, a video interview with the artist before the performance, a video of the performance, a video interview with the artist after the performance and the half-dressed artist sitting on a pedestal with her mouth taped shut, the latter performance work titled Silent Artist. The props are personal relics such as clothes, artist materials, photos, memorabilia and toiletries from the artist’s past and encompass her relationship, creative life and daily routine.

Aside from three video pieces, shown simultaneously to create illuminating composites, the exhibition is deathly boring. But this is the point, according to Kathryn Smith who opened the exhibition: once analysed or highlighted, the artistic process is incredibly banal, including the artist’s daily medication, financial records and toenail clippings. Prepared to shatter the mirage of an artistic persona, the exhibition is, to use Smith’s word, “brave”.

In her opening talk, Smith went on to compare Lovemore-Reed’s exhibition to the legal case between MassMoCA and Swiss artist Christoph Buchel in which, after funding ran out and the artist withdrew from the project, a court ruled that the gallery could show the incomplete work. This seemingly tentative connection concluded with the question of what say the artist has in the final realisation of an artwork and the way creative suspense is stripped by secularising the artistic process.

However, for the artist, this is not a fictional exhibition. After all, it was inspired by real-world burning, not an intellectual construction. For the artist, there is meaning and intense emotions in every single object in Remnants, Relics and Reasons and tackling the fear of performance in the first exhibition would point to significant character growth. Indeed, the exhibition could be perceived as a voyeur’s curatorial delight or washing your knickers in public if it weren’t for the staid world-weariness of the artistic space. This is when Silent Artist, which seems incidental to the exhibition, highlights the invalidation with which one views art.

Art South Africa,Β 1 December 2007

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