50 years ago the film The Graduate was made. Dustin Hoffman’s character Benjamin Braddock was given some advice about his future, “plastics” was whispered into his ear. Plastics was the future.
Plastics is the lens in which I approach two exhibitions at Spike Island in Bristol featuring the work from Giles Round and Andrea Luka Zimmerman. These two artists are curiously brought together, and why I’d like to metaphorically wrap their work together with a sheet of plastic. These shows feel rather poignant given our current social/political climate.
Round’s work at first glance seems rather playful. There are low hanging cumulus steel structures, artificially lit, with what looked like to me safety lighting used in large construction projects. A sky blue curtain with an image of a tower block style building made from chain, like the kind that keeps flies out of your local butcher, hangs amongst the steel clouds.
The curtain is the perfect link to Andrea Luka Zimmerman’s film Estate, a Reverie (2015). The film painfully shows that we should have been investing in people rather than plastics. It reminds me of Ken Loach’s depictions of England that our government(s) try to ignore, but the people in Zimmerman’s film are not actors.
Insincere objects with people left to rot. Pliable and brittle. Are we ready to be kinder to one another?
Round also invited artist Alex Cecchetti for an evening performance in collaboration with his work. I was reminded of a scene from The Karate Kid (1984) of Mr Miyagi trying to teach Daniel son muscle memory by making him wax his car and painting his fence. Wax on, wax off, wax on, wax off… Cecchetti’s version involved the clitoris, well, an imaginary one, but still it was a group tutorial.
Alex Cecchetti’s performance (and ours) was thrilling, in the way that it was unexpected and spontaneous. Love, feminism, toe nail clippings, Noah’s Ark, swarms of herons, mating animals, the holding of a foot, a whisper in an ear, and a face massage. It was fascinating how we completely surrendered our trust to him. Giles Round’s work set the perfect stage for this performance, and the performance added another dimension to this already thick veneer that protects the meaning behind the works in this exhibition.
This work is definitely not an Anti-Climax Climax. It was wonderfully generous, insightful, and rich with layers of meaning and complexity, oh and funny. Applauding the bow, the curtain, the words, the ladder, the clouds, the thunder, the climax, the letterpress text, the furniture, the carpet, the darkness and the toxic light.