Mental Puberty

Group show at STORE Gallery, London, 2009
Paul Becker, Chris Evans and Melissa Gordon, Erik van Lieshout, Paul Sharits, Padraig Timoney, Bedwyr Williams
Curated by Chris Evans


Poster for exhibition by Chris Evans & Melissa Gordon

The starting point of Mental Puberty occurred at around 4 o clock in the morning, when artist Chris Evans imagined himself answering the phone in his father's voice. Scientific research shows that the attenuated mental state of the early hours is related to the body s drain of endomorphines. What seems to be a sign of psychological imbalance is in actuality a reduction in the opiate protein present in the human brain. The early surrealist movement connected this time as the moment when the subliminal encounters the fragmented self; be it in a religious, filial or even physical capacity like in Giacometti s sculptural installation The Palace at 4am (1933), where the artist sees his body as an architectural skeleton, placing both his mother and his lover as ornaments in his delicately structured order. A modern day example of transmitting the subconscious would be commonly practiced in therapy. In UP!, Erik van Lieshout explores both his compulsion to talk incessantly and his inability to listen, discovering these are hereditary traits from his mother. His desire to stay in control, on top, in control leads him to suffer from the opposite, uncontrollable, irrational fears. This film installation gives us a confrontational look into the private life of Van Lieshout himself and can also be read as a Bildungsroman: a genre that arose during the German Enlightenment, in which the protagonist embarks on a journey into the psychological, moral and social shaping of his personality. If Erik's work offers answers through its exhibitionist tendencies, Paul Beckers portrait of a child, The Sleeper, leaves the viewer guessing as to what occupies the mind of its subject. The child’s eyes are glazed, perhaps witnessing something out of sight, something withdrawn from the eyes of strangers. Being left in the dark is also the first impression one gets from Burglar (Insurance Job) by Padraig Timoney. In the vast, dark canvas we see the LED of an alarm clock reading 23.16. As is well known, burglars don’t operate in the early hours, since when disturbed at this time, people are more likely to act irrationally and take the law into their own hands. The centre piece in this exhibition is the film T,O,U,C,H,I,N,G by the late, 1970s filmmaker Paul Sharits, a founder of the Structuralist film movement. Filmed at the height of the Love Generation, T,O,U,C,H,I,N,G stars the poet David Franks in a sequence of flashing images in which Franks positions his tongue between an open pair of scissors. Over and over we hear one word merge into a single sound. DESTROY, DESTROY, DESTROY, DESTROY... Equally unnerving is Bedwyr Williams A Methodist to My Madness, a performance work in which the artist presents the creation process from start to end. From a twin-toothed pulpit, he denounces the obstacles overshadowing his métier as performance artist, as he chooses - not without a wry sense of humor - the robe of a methodist priest as costume. On the evening of the private view, Matthew Welton will be reading a new poem, which he has written specifically for the exhibition. In There to make the rest of us look bad, Matthew Welton introduces Chester and McKinley, two characters who, wherever they find themselves - at a flower market, on a riverbank, sprawling under a tree - never seem to get comfortable with who they are. Chris Evans and Melissa Gordon have produced a poster for the exhibition: Mental Puberty. Orgy Kaleidescope. Screenings of T,O,U,C,H,I,N,G by Paul Sharits will take place on the opening evening and by appointment during the exhibition. With thanks to LUX for their assistance with this work.