Ceal Floyer | Ikon Gallery, Birmingham
Ceal Floyer | Ikon Gallery, Birmingham
Ceal Floyer's art is minimal, elegant, quirky, surprising (it has a lot in common with Martin Creed's), and more often than not elicits thoughts of the sublime from mundane raw material.
In one room there is a cartoon-like drawing of a mousehole. The drawing is life-size (ie small), and that's all there is in the gallery. The image is on a sheet of A4-sized card which leans between floor and wall. In looking around to see if there was anything else on display, I couldn't help but notice that the arched elements in the gallery ceiling echo the curved entrance to the mousehole. What about the implied mouse? Well, it could have been on the floor behind the card, but wasn't (I walked to a corner of the room from where I could see behind the card without having to draw attention to myself by bending down). So if there was a mouse in that room, it was me.
Perhaps this is the challenge to the visitor: the artist modestly presents humble-seeming work, but the rewards of taking on the simplicity at face-value are great. With Door, you can see that a projector on the floor is responsible for the horizontal line of light along the bottom edge of a gallery door, giving the illusion that light from outside is creeping into the room. Now that is something you might see every day, but by the artist having drawn attention to the phenomenon, you accept that there is something uplifting about it, like the sun peeping over the horizon at the dawn of a new day.
In all there are 15 pieces over two floors, most of which have you subtly exploring the gallery's architecture, while also bringing to mind wind, rain, sunshine; sound and vision; scale and time. A photograph of a glass with water on one floor is titled Half Empty, another on the floor above is Half Full. Together they make a full glass of water and a full glass of air: that's the positive way in which you begin to think after you've spent any time with the work in this fine exhibition.
Until 25 March; 0121 248 0708
Elizabeth Price | Mobile Home, London
"Help" is emblazoned over the invitation card to this show, which consists of just a few pieces. On a monitor, the hands of Elizabeth Price can be seen addressing the cards with a black felt-tipped pen, one after the other, an act of endurance that that goes on for five hours and 23 minutes. Perhaps it's the same pen that was used in 24 hours, a large sheet of paper, framed behind glass, which leans between wall and floor, and which has been systematically blacked out with horizontal strokes of the pen, starting from the bottom and getting most of the way up the sheet in the 24 hours allotted for the task.
So what sort of help is the artist referring to? Perhaps she wants someone to assist her with work that is clearly time-consuming and apparently pointless, or even someone to help ween her away from such abject activities. A black ink-soaked fiver displayed on a plinth in a Perspex box suggests a financial reading - Price will go on making the work if someone will buy it. Equally it could suggest the opposite: hers is an art practice which rejects notions of commercial value. The possible interpretations are many, but what's inescapable is the black ink and a rigorous aesthetic.
Alive to the predominantly dark mood of the rest of the show, a wall-mounted sheet of black plastic has the letters "WOOF" engraved in white. But is this a happy bark or the bark of a creature in pain? Perhaps a dog has arrived to help Price. Indeed the visitor has to suppose that simply by being in the gallery assistance is somehow being given to the artist. So from the visitor's point of view this show can become a morally elevating experience. "Woof", then. Besides, maybe the help mentioned is something being offered by the artist, intended for and freely given to the visitor. Of course! So "Woof," again, and much wagging of tail.
The work of Price and Ceal Floyer share much. It's not just the blackness and whiteness, the humility and minimality, the ambiguity and subtlety - it's the viewer-friendliness which is present in both at a fundamental level.
Until 31 March; 020 7405 7575Reuse content