21st Century

Ian Law

Thursday 12 November, 7pm

A new performance by artist Ian Law, using an arrangement of text from Chisenhale Gallery’s archive. 

In 1995, Chisenhale Gallery hosted a touring exhibition by the artist Absalon (1964-93) featuring four of his Cellules – full-scale architectural models of idealised living units. Absalon died shortly after the exhibition opened at Musée d’Art Moderne, Paris in 1993 and before it travelled to Chisenhale Gallery. 

The Cellules are life-sized models, or prototypes, for living quarters to be installed in various major cities of the world, including Frankfurt, Paris, Tel Aviv and Zurich. Absalon intended them to be stopping points in his own travels. Relatively small and formally minimal – painted white inside and out, involving very basic geometry – each is different. Their structures were determined by the dimensions of the artist’s body and his movements, responding with the greatest possible economy and even in the slightest details to the functional needs of everyday existence. Each contains particular defined spaces for cooking and eating, for bathing and toilet, for working and sleeping.

Law re-composes text from the archived correspondence relating to the exhibition – documents, faxes, press cuttings and educational workshop material – to form a text piece and performance. He addresses the elusiveness of Absalon and his work, exploring the limitations of language and the disjointed nature of communication through the partial accounts of events surrounding the exhibition. This performance follows Law’s recent attempts to secure the loan of a work by Absalon for the exhibition Out of the Living, which he curated at Supplement Gallery, London in 2015.

In 2014, Law began a series of texts composed from other sources, including his book, Infirm Arbroath – an arrangement of text from the International New York Times – published by Tenderbooks, London in 2015. This is the first time that Law has produced a text for performance. 

Law has devised a warm-up exercise for the performers, based on Bruits [Noises] (1993) a short video by Absalon that was exhibited at Chisenhale Gallery for one weekend in September 1993. The performance takes place within a specially constructed set comprising foam structures based on drawings from a schools’ workshop, which Law found in the archive. The children were asked to draw their own idealised living units based on Absalon’s Cellules and then made cardboard maquettes from the drawings. Both the exhibition of the video and the schools’ workshop were held in the studio space at Chisenhale Gallery, where Law’s performance also takes place. 

An online element of Law’s performance is available to view here

Ian Law (b.1984, UK) lives and works in London. He curated Out of the living, a group exhibition at Supplement Gallery, London (2015). Recent solo exhibitions includeYou’re Adjusting, Rodeo, London (2015); Ian Law, Laura Bartlett Gallery, London (2014); New Works, VI, VII, Oslo; Make Sure, Rodeo, Istanbul (both 2012). Recent group exhibitions include Things That Tumble Twice, Tenderpixel, London (2015); Episode 2: Corridors, OSLO 10, Basel (both 2015); Painful Zombies Quickly Watch a Jinxed Graveyard, Cripta747, Turin (2014).

Chisenhale Gallery’s 21st Century programme 2015-16 is supported by  
Marie and Joe Donnelly.



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