Safe @ HOME, Manchester

Review by Emma Orgill | 09 Dec 2015

The resounding question: "Are you allergic to the 21st century?"

HOME has responded to Todd Haynes’ thought-provoking 1995 film, Safe, providing artistic interpretations of the unstable marriage between the psychological and the physical. Safe is the first of many responsive exhibitions HOME aims to promote in the coming months. Taking a traditional or prominent film as inspiration, the concept aims to formulate conversation around principal, ageless subjects.

Featuring moving image, sculpture, installation, photography and print, the exhibition includes existing artworks from Jala Wahid, Michael Dean, Sunil Gupta and Laura Morrison combined with new commissions from 2014 Turner Prize nominee James Richards, as well as Camilla Wills, Chris Paul Daniels, Claire Makhlouf Carter and Yoshua Okon – providing nine interpretations of the notions of self-help, sexual politics, alienation and paranoia.

The layout in the main gallery allows for the traditional airy atmosphere to house the majority of the work, while the two moving-image pieces are more intimately located. There’s even a sofa to sit on and a carpet comforting your feet while you enjoy Yoshua Okon's masterful Fridge-Freezer.

You are greeted with Chris Paul Daniels’ An Audio Guide, which I found refreshingly inimitable. It is certainly not what is seems – it's confusing, unseemly, yet appropriately fitting. A kind of self-help product. Elsewhere, Jala Wahid’s photographic print, titled Mallow, acts as the seductively inviting image at the forefront of the exhibition and as Safe’s promotional force. It is essentially an intentional, alluring response to physical wounds and a personal interpretation of the use of objects – such as food – in order to create an evocative and questionable message. 

Todd Haynes’ film asks whether Julianne Moore’s character, Carol White, is either simply reluctant or entirely incapable of battling her accumulating state. What appears to be responsible? Is it her mind or her body? However puzzling, wonderful, abstract or disconcerting, this exhibition takes its audience on an immersive journey, similar to that of Carol’s, which digs deeper than the average gallery experience.

Because the moving-image pieces are most definitely worth watching, it’s important to visit when you’re not in a mad rush. Also, do not forget to hang your coat in the cloakroom upon entering. Expect the unexpected. 

Until 3 Jan 2016