Artvehicle 14/Review

6th April 2007 — 12th May 2007

An all female cast makes up Frauhaus, the new group show at The Agency in the East-end which addresses notions of twentieth century modernism, design, gender and technology.

There is a rhythm about this show and certain energy, which is very visible upon entering the wooden doors of the gallery space. Finnish artist, Heidi Kilpelainen’s black and white projection serves as the backdrop for the show. The short video pieces feature Kilpelainen’s alter ego, HK-119 dressed in a black body suit with geometric wooden body attachments, performing various mechanical dances. In one piece, the figure has large white triangles attached to her arms, slowly opening and closing them like wings; stiff and unemotional the movements are simultaneously graceful and harsh, the sound emanating from the video bangs out the movements. The jittery repetition of the movements sits well with Robot Group (2006) a work by young Israeli artist, Gal Kinan. Two hybrid torsos sit on top of wooden stools, powered by computer components, their stumpy limbs squeak as they make slow and shaky gestures. The circuit boards hang out of their bellies, like pulled out intestines; they make me think of the show-off cadavers in seventeenth century medical anatomical drawings. Lamps with a small video screen attached, loom over the figures. The screens show words composed of jumbled letters, such as ‘body’, ‘said’ and ‘put’, incomplete sentences; it is as though the robots are trying to make their voices heard. The work has a playful honesty to it despite it’s high-tech components.

Close by is Karen Tang’s Golden Reaper (2006), a sculpture made from various wooden components which are slotted together to make a self supporting structure. It is covered in what appears to be golden-flocked wallpaper, the gaudiness offset by the simplicity and clear lines of construction. There is a nod to modernist product design and the Bauhaus era in the photography of Sadie Murdoch and in Ursula Mayer’s Untitled Triptych (2006).

However, it is one work in particular which gives this show the weight it deserves. Mounted on the wall is a small video screen presenting The Mistress (2006) an animation by Angie Reed, part of the musical duo Chicks on Speed. Headphones transmit an electro pop soundtrack, which accompany the brightly coloured Germanic drawings. This work presents a refreshing twist in contrast to all the clean modernist lines in the other artists work, throwing the show slightly off balance. This provides a shift in weight giving more strength to an already tight group show.


The Agency Gallery
15a Cremer Street
London E2 8HD

Tuesday-Saturday, 10.30am-6pm

Frauhaus —  Ursula Mayer Untitled Triptych Screenprints on silver paper, framed 2006 Image courtesy of The Agency Gallery

Ursula Mayer
Untitled Triptych
Screenprints on silver paper, framed
Image courtesy of The Agency Gallery