Evento Collaterale della 57. Biennale di Venezia.
James Richards will exhibit Music for the gift, a new body of work including a sound installation, video and photographic works, to represent Cymru yn Fenis Wales in Venice as a collateral event of the 57th Venice Biennale. The exhibition, held at the Santa Maria Ausiliatrice, is commissioned by the Arts Council of Wales and curated by Chapter, Cardiff.
Richards’ presentation is inspired by the space of the Santa Maria Ausiliatrice and the artist’s ongoing exploration of the emotive power of appropriated material
What Weakens The Flesh Is The Flesh Itself (2017) is a video made with collaborator Steve Reinke. The starting point for the work is a series of images found in the private archive of Albrecht Becker—a production designer, photographer and actor imprisoned by the Nazis for being homosexual—held at The Schwules Museum*, Berlin. Amongst pictures of friends and photographs taken whilst serving in World War II is a collection of self-portraits that reveal an obsessive commitment to body modification and his own image: duplicated, repeated and reworked within. The artists have drawn on hundreds of these self-portraits and combined them with medical footage, educational film and text to construct a piece that interrogates what it means to build a body of work of the body, and for the body to become a work itself.
Rushes Minotaur (2017) is an installation of inkjet prints that draws on two distinct images: a close-up of crumbling skin from a medical book and the tarpaulin-shielded façade of a shop. Cut together and then rescanned, these simple visual cues and combinations of found images are disrupted and reinstated through a scanning process that stretches and stacks them into different combinations; subject matter appears to fall away, refracted and recalibrated; the image itself is fragile.
A publication of deceptive economy, present throughout the exhibition, contains an expansive text by the writer Chris McCormack. The narrative moves between the intimate and the scientific and reflects upon the breaking of the male voice. The subject has been a point of dialogue between the two collaborators for several years and McCormack’s words began to chime when Richards spent time in the Santa Maria Ausiliatrice. Moving between first and third person, the text meets Richards’ exhibition at an oblique angle, like his images that oscillate between unfettered documentary and a more neurotic interior territory.
James Richards: Music for the gift is curated by Hannah Firth and managed by Chapter.