Monday, 15 September 2014

Heather Phillipson – sub-fusc love-feast

Dundee Contemporary Arts until November 9th
Four stars
Playing God appears to come natural to Heather Phillipson as the
London-born poet, performer, sculptor and video artist gets back to
nature by way of a jungle full of photographic cut-out dioramas and
big-screen video cut-ups that suggests hat the so-called natural world
is not so much being tamed as remixed and reimagined.

Shown as part of the DCA's Discovery Film Festival, Phillipson's series
of multi-dimensional configurations move from Eden to Heaven, Hell and
other promised lands on earth as assorted fruits of the original sin
are blown up to juicily epic proportions. Wildlife, on the other hand,
look shrunken and out of proportion, while upside-down human limbs
offer something else to chew on as giraffes and pink flamingoes graze.
On the flipside of what are in fact a set of artfully arranged wooden
flats, the same swirly day-glo writing that provides animated captions
to the films point up the film-set style fakery of such arrangements
beneath the surface.

On film, cows chew the cud, pants are pulled down and toes are
potentially trodden on as Phillipson's spoken-word accompaniment
attempts to get back to a guilt-free garden where touching displays are
actively and erotically encouraged beyond any jungle warnings once sent
out by the likes of Ray Bradbury's chillingly prophetic short story
about the potentially deadly downside of virtual culture, The Veldt.
Rather, Phillipson offers a playful and at times downright saucy
evocation of a world of creature comforts that looks like it took
considerably more than the ecclesiastical standard six days to set up,
seventh day rest for the wicked notwithstanding.

The List, September 2014


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