After Hours @ 16 Nicholson Street, Glasgow
Through a combination of spatial intervention, sculpture, publication and video work, Higgins complicates ideas of formal presentation, as well as leisure, professionalism and labour
After Hours by Jessica Higgins inhabits all three floors of the gallery during Open House. Relating to the relaxedness of the Glasgow festival of front room exhibitions, Higgins begins with a reading room with bean bags and new wooden sculptural partitions. Made out of wooden posts that have been angled together into geometric abstractions, the large new walls cut up the space in a skeletal way. Foot traffic is redirected and areas for pause are made, but not by making private cubicles.
A more recognisable kind of common space is quoted upstairs, as casts of little stubby beer bottles are left all around, along with handmade and painted sculptures of dried trail mix. There’s a relaxedness of the volume of work on display, allowing for a drifting gaze over the dozens of things on display, including draped garments over bespoke tables. Yet, there’s nevertheless these kinds of nods to a designed experience, something akin to a gesamtkunstwerk and the ideas of an intertwining art and lifestyle.
This twin sense of poise then repose relates to some of the repeated narratives of different rhythms of sleep and rest throughout history. In the publication and video on the top floor, Higgins includes descriptions of workers in the past waking up during the night to read for hours and this breaking of sleep being accepted and enjoyed.
Nevertheless, while this life-work model is referenced with an enthusiasm or curiosity, more prevalent is ambiguity of the work’s constructedness then informality and melding of handmade techniques and industrial materials (timber, plywood). What’s made and suggested instead is a niche for forming a different relationship to leisure, time off and social interaction, emphatically without a single prescription. [Adam Benmakhlouf]