The Starry Rubric Set, Wysing Arts Centre, Cambridgeshire


Cosmology and traditional astrology are oestensibly the themes of this sparky group show at experimental residency centre Wysing in Cambridgeshire, titled after a line in Milton’s Paradise Regained (in which Satan describes to Jesus that he sees in his stars a future of pain, sorrow and death, as well as a kingdom of sorts, but he cannot tell the real from the allegorical and cannot predict a timeframe of events).

This inability to place the future in time perhaps offers more of an explanation to this exhibition than anything relating to Aquarius or Virgo, though images of constallations do draw many of the works together aesthetically.

In low gallery light, Giles Round’s interconnecting lamps cover the walls, held together as though constallations by pleated cables that zig zag around the walls, bringing to mind the way that the artworks impact one one another. Occasionally one hears Laure Prouvost’s voice saying ‘this voice is a big pink light cloud…surrounding everything’, whilst Kate Owens’s beautifully transformative film, projected onto the ceiling and reseembling images of a divine cosmos, is a slowly changing set of photographs of speckled linoleum in different shades and patterns, pulling the most banal, unloved material from the floor and sending it skyward,

In other works, however, including a John Latham work and performance documentation demonstrating his ‘Time Base Theory’, pasts, presents and futures are subject to an intriguing form of gear-switching. At the far end of the gallery are two confident, monolithic polystyrene sculptures created by Nicolas Deshayes in glow in the dark paint, featuring contoured ripples resembling unusual snow drifts or futuristic architectural renderings. Projected on the sculpture is Karin Khiliberg and Rueben Henry’s This Story is About a Little Boy, a lovely piece of storytelling, in which a narrator describes a half-remembered film which has been illustrated by fragments of clips, which, each time they fade out are held for a few moments by the light on the phosphorescent paint.

Marjolijn Dijkman’s film is a cinematic timeline of films that have depicted the future – from Men in Black to The Day After Tomorrow – from 2008 to the year 802.701 AD, each flickering between the period from the past that they were made in and the premanitory or fantastical visions of the future, while Ruth Beale's prints, their images taken from library book versions of William Morris's utopic science fiction tale News From Nowhere, are rendered in psychadelic dayglow shades, as though advertising a countercultural 'mind-expanding' event, which, indeed, they are. There are prehaps one too many ideas in the room, shooting off like stars in all directions, but, nonetheless, a very bright set of artists.