Review: Going Public in Sheffield (EXHIBITION)

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Review: Going Public in Sheffield (EXHIBITION)

Going Public. Much less serious than it sounds. This is currently the situation in Sheffield. The entire city and its public art spaces have been taken over by private collections. Making the private public. Blending the worlds if you will. Showing works that we would never normally see.

The whole programme exhibiting these works in different locations across the city are completely free!! So there is really no reason to not pay a visit if you are in Sheffield (or live in the surrounding areas!)

The work finds itself spread across five different spaces – each offering a glimpse of the taste of the collector in question. I’ll quickly summarise below each location, what is on display and my thoughts on the exhibit, as not every gallery will not be to every taste.

1. The Graves Gallery

This was the first gallery that we hit up on our crawl. It features art that is part of the Marzona Collection (part of which is currently on display in Berlin, which you can read about here.) Now the stuff on display here was right up my street – mainly because it principally showing the work of art bae Marcel Duchamp. (The fame that he brought to urinals and toilets alike is admirable.)

What I enjoyed most about this exhibition is that although it did feature a couple of key works by my main man, (La Boite-en-valise and a pun with our dear lady Mona Lisa) it very much showed you works that wouldn’t be collected by public institute. (Which I feel is the point of this programme.) It framed posters for exhibits as artworks, displayed trail and errors as finalised pieces, and gave us Pain Peint. (One of the best puns known to man. Visualise this: a blue painted baguette. By Mr Man Ray.) In essence, it gave time to pieces that normally wouldn’t normally be given this opportunity to be considered the way objects are in a gallery. I particularly enjoyed looking at his posters – really looking – because a lot of them hold a lot more thought and work in them than you’d normally give them credit for.

The exhibition itself is only two rooms long, of a decent size. Once you come out of the temporary exhibition there are some other things worth looking at. (Most notably Kiss 2001 by Marc Quinn.)

In essence, you’ll like this display of the Maronza collection if you enjoy Dadaism, Duchamp and quite a traditional display. It’s a thumbs up from me.

2. Millennium Gallery

Next we found ourselves at the Millennium Gallery. The space has definitely more of a ‘contemporary art gallery feel’ than the one before. (That was more of a museum.) This probably added to why this collection was chosen to be shown here.

The Cattelain Collection reflects the collector’s passion for Minimal and Conceptual art from the 1960s and 1970s – which really lends itself to a white cube environment. Aesthetically these things look very good in this space. At first you are greeted by the work of Do Ho Suh entitled Wielandstr. 18, 12159 Berlin, 2011. It really is a fantastic piece of work that needs to stand alone to be fully appreciated. I have to say that the curation of this collection probably impressed me the most, as certain artworks on display had different needs, and they managed to make them co-exist very peacefully. Now the piece mentioned above is a life-size representation of an apartment the artist stayed in whilst in Berlin. You are encouraged to walk through this installation, and as you do so you see little details such as a plug socket.

The lefthand side of the gallery is occupied by the rest of the collection on display. I’ll only mention one more piece (so you’ll have something to discover for yourself.) It’s a light installation by Anthony McCall called Meeting You Halfway ||, 2009. It’s a digital projection that is in a completely blackened space. Because of this, when you physically interact with the piece, you can dramatically control the light beam and create new shapes with your body. Visually it’s very impressive, but it is even better when experienced live. I think we must have spent at least a ten minutes there, so it is definitely worth your time.

The contemporary art lover in me (as well as budding curator) really loved this display. It’s another thumbs up!

3. SIA Gallery

This gallery is split across two floors, we somehow ended up seeing the display upstairs first before seeing the exhibition below. (The two floors aren’t directly connected. Also, this gallery seems to be part of Sheffield Hallam University, so when you walk into the building, don’t worry, you are in the right place.) The dsl collection is on display here. It primarily deals with Asian art, in particular with China.

The upstairs work dealt with second life. So had a lot of what looked like screen shots and digital art work – things that I’m not very interested in. I feel like there is a better way of dealing with the concept of second life than what was exhibited, but I know people that love that type of stuff so if you do, this will be right up your street.

Downstairs was much better. (But still a mixed bag in my opinion.) Many of the concepts themselves are very interesting – I just feel that the execution lets it down. For example, the piece One Hour of Pleasure, 1996 is a 1 hour video by Liang Juhui. Basically the artist played a video game on a workers’ lift disrupting the progress around him. The performance itself is very interesting, however I feel that a one hour video is not the best way to show it. Sometimes it’s easy to get documention confused as the artwork, and I feel like this video is trying to replace it. When in fact it was the action itself that was the work. (If that makes sense?) Anyway, the other piece that was my favourite (mainly for how the sound of the piece interacted with the rest of the exhibition) was called oh, my God/ Oh Dui, 2003 by Yang Jiechang. This is definitely worth looking up and seeing!! Loved it.

4. Site Gallery

This is a small little place that only has two video artworks. These I enjoyed. The Site Gallery continues the display from the dsl collection housed in the SIA Gallery mentioned above by Chinese artists. The video pieces themselves aren’t too long to digest, and because no other mediums are on display your whole attention is taken up by these pieces.

The videos deal with China’s progress. And shows us regular morning exercises in different staff companies. An interesting view on a country we only know generalisations about.

5. Sheffield Cathedral

Perhaps most surprisingly on the list is this location. Showing work in a Cathedral isn’t a new idea, but it can definitely add something to a piece. (It’s all about context guys.) One thing I have to note first whilst I remember is this: we got to the Cathedral at around 5pm (the place closes at 6.30pm) and by the time we were leaving (probably just past 5.30pm) they had started to switch off light pieces and video projections, so I wouldn’t get there too late, as it would definitely be a shame. That being said, one particular work that you can normally access was closed off as someone had locked the door that allowed you entry to the location of the piece. (I only knew this because my friend with me had seen parts of the exhibition before. I do think this took away from the artwork, as I wasn’t able to experience the way the original installation had intended.) So don’t get there too late!!

Now onto thoughts of actual things.

The work here is from the Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Collection. What was most interesting for me rather than the work, was its new meaning from being in the Cathedral. There are some pieces that are more shocking than others – or proclaim to hold meanings of political ethical issues which really are hard to see without a label to explain it to you.

Pieces worth noting:
In Giru, Imus Nocte et Consumimur Ignir by Cerith Wyn Evans,
Your Hidden Sound by Micol Assael.

And I’ve written a novel so I’m going to leave it there folks! Far too much rambling for you. Do google the artworks mentioned, and if you can do go and have a snoop. What this exhibition does is question the role of the collector in contemporary art. How do they shape the way art is created? By lending their support to certain artists they fund particular practices and in turn shape our cultural landscape for years to come.

All these exhibitions are a short walk from each other, and a stone’s throw away from the train station. This is definitely one of the strengths of the exhibit, because as well as exploring these different collections, you discover the city along with the art. They’ve done a great job of blending this international artwork with a Yorkshire town.

Each location has a luminous orange exhibition guide that has each location in, as well as a handy map so you shouldn’t get too lost. Also as you might have seen from the photo way up top, the exhibition runs until 12th December 2015. So catch this quick – it is a lovely way to spend half a day.

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