Estrangement @ Cooper Gallery, Until 16 Feb
In the Cooper Gallery’s new show Estrangement, the work of four emerging international artists delivers a filmic installation that portrays a haunting, fragmentary view of the world. Larisa Daiga’s stone ball rolls and clatters, Samuel Williams’ rudimentary machines buzz over wire across a bucolic landscape, Fatma Bucak’s elderly villagers grudgingly stand, negotiating the artist’s directions, and Evariste Maïga throws frantic shapes to a pounding electronic beat. Three films are displayed on rotation across three screens in the main gallery, while Williams’ Natural Habitat plays on a loop in the foyer. After their artists’ talk, I caught up with Bucak and Maïga to ask a couple of questions about the show.
How does the show’s concept of estrangement apply to your own work here?
Fatma Bucak: The idea of being 'foreign' to something or someplace, unfamiliar even if it's familiar, is exactly the punctum of the work Blessed are you who come; estrangement comes out of being displaced culturally and physically in this piece of video performance, where the uncanny space is actually home to the artist and other performers in the video.
Evariste Maïga: I often create works that generate a sphere where the audience finds itself confronted with such feeling. The objects that I produce are vehicles for the ideas or mental representations that I try to express and it is probably this back and forth move that the work asks the viewer to operate that creates the feeling of something strange. I don't read the title Estrangement as related to the word “stranger,” as my practice is more object oriented, in "opposition" to concerns about society or politics.
Do you see your work in this show as representative of your own practice?
FB: Yes, my practice references observation from reality and constructed fictional, mythological aspects where the Biblical and Koranic stories, and the peremptory presence of feminine persons are metaphors through which I reinterpret archetypes with new possible meanings. In those senses this work is also strongly connected to my research.
EM: The two works I am presenting in this exhibition, Improvisation, Pain and Joy and (...) Not standing still are the first two videos I have ever produced as part of my practice. They are also the last two works I have made so they are representative of the current state of my practice. But I normally produce work that you can touch. Obviously the objects and these last two videos are connected by the ideas that are driving them. My work is motivated by ideas and feelings rather than physical considerations, even though the physicality of the work is necessary to carry the ideas. [Ben Robinson]