Phantom shapes & ghost events
Leslie Mutchler & Jason Urban
6-16 March 2018
F-Block Gallery, Bower Ashton, UWE
These images are works by artists Leslie Mutchler & Jason Urban who exhibited ‘Phantom Shapes & Ghost Events’ in F-Block Gallery, Bower Ashton, UWE, from 6-16 March 2018. This was a must see exhibit for anyone who was interested in print, instillation, the materiality of memory, history, and the documentation of the ephemeral (and more). Bristol’s print girth is slightly rotund, but here we get to see print in a completely new way, one of the reasons why this exhibit is so timely and important. It rearranges our expectations.
A few months ago Paul Laidler planted a seed that was extremely weighty and has formed roots in my thinking when he said the words ‘conceptual screenprinting’. Of course, I fumbled along with some flimsy ways of trying to visually express this, but the work by Mutchler and Urban illustrates this concept perfectly and gave me an aha moment.
Leslie Mutchler & Jason Urban are making conceptual works related to print, but not making work that we would typically see from printmakers. For example, on their website, you can see images from a project titled ‘UNIVERSAL’, there is one image that shows a rock sitting on a stack of printed newspapers. The rock references the history of lithography printing, and printing from slabs of limestone. Modern plates replaced limestone, and that increased production for the newspaper industry. Today we have print on demand digital print companies, such as the Newspaper Club in the UK, that allows you to print small editions and distribute your own newspapers. I suspect Mutchler and Urban used a similar company, or possibly printed their own small edition of newspapers that we see in this image. The pile of small run newspapers under the limestone rock gives you the history of print without having to show a framed work conventionally hung on the wall.
The work disrupts our expectations in how we experience book(s). Whether in a library, bookstore, or how we turn the page. On a superficial level, I love how both Babel Unbound and Revisited look. And I can see how this project takes us to their recent project ‘Phantom Shapes & Ghost Events’, in how the instillation of an idea occupies and overwhelms beautifully.