Adaptation III: Native 3rd October– 12th December 2015  g39, Cardiff

Darren Banks, Nadine Byrne, Nicholas Johnson, Serena Korda and Marlene Steyn.

Opening Reception Friday 2 October 5.30pm - 8pm with live performance by Serena Korda

Island is an evolving programme of exhibitions, commissions, film, food, performance, music and community led events, in three parts. The Island programme has previously looked at disparate notions of isolation and community. Island Adaptation III: Native progresses these ideas and brings together a group of five international artists whose work travels through themes of ritual, colonialism, horror, folklore and 'other'. Native considers the histories of colonising other lands, perceptions of civilization, and current cultural understanding and (mis)representations of these.

Darren Banks (1978, UK) looks at the possibility of film as sculpture. He is a fanatic of 1970s horror film genre – its aesthetic, characters and structural form. Banks combines these elements to create lush non-linear narratives within his sculptures. In Island III: Native Banks presents part of a larger ongoing work based on the extraordinary and eclectic life of late sculptor Churton Fairman. Fairman had an early career as a ballet dancer, then pirate radio DJ (alias Mike Raven), religious presenter and horror movie actor, finally relocating to Cornwall in the 1970s to become a sheep farmer and self-taught sculptor and woodcarver.
Banks’ sculptural assemblage The Altar (2015) is a collection of objects that creates a complete narrative out of contrast, incongruity and duality: the interweaving of Banks’ sculptures and Fairman’s legacy, horror movie actor and the sculptor, faith and the occult, man and woman.
 
Serena Korda (1979, UK) works with the traditions and symbols of folklore, magic and superstition to create large-scale ensemble performance, films and sculptures. Korda examines the secret life of objects and our latent desire to find pleasure in fear. Throughout her practice is a search for ritual in the everyday. Audiences are often encouraged to participate in her process, creating collective experiences.
In Island III: Native Korda will be showing The Hosts: Ectoplasmic Variations (2015). These are a series of ceramic jugs, each bearing the face of a bearded man. They reference Bellermine Jugs (common household objects of the 16th century). During the witch hunts of the 17th century, these jugs were transformed in to ‘Witches Bottles’, a form of sympathetic magic used to ward off evil. A kind of voodoo ensued as the body of the male vessel was filled with urine, bent nails and votive cloth hearts, hoping to cause pain to any witch who posed a threat. Korda’s jugs are both sculptures and functioning musical instruments, objects of use in a contemporary performance of ancient traditions.
 
Nicholas Johnson’s (1982, Hawaii) immersive canvases are heavily patterned depictions of nature in all its leafy, floral abundance. Johnson takes an academic approach to his work, exploring the Romantic and Aesthetic principles of 19th century philosophy in his vibrant, energetic landscapes. Decay or obsolescence is a significant theme in Johnson’s work: the idea that anything, if abandoned, will ultimately be reclaimed and incorporated back into nature. Gibbering Full Moon Fuckwit (2015) is a screen of five painted wood panels attached to a timber frame, an architectural intrusion that bisects the exhibition space. Faces are suggested, eyes atop faces of foliage, vines sprouting from eyes and noses obscuring their features, an unnerving eerie quality of something being transformed from the inside out. “My work mines histories that sit buried or latent within a landscape and can be invoked. At the same time it explores how modes of perception shift over time.”
 
Johnson will also be producing and publishing Island Encyclopedia, a unique artist book that maps all the Island adaptations at g39 during 2015 (limited edition run of 120).
 
Nadine Byrne (1985, Sweden) is an interdisciplinary artist whose practice investigates the hidden or forgotten domains of the human psyche, often using the occult and ritual as her main inspiration. She uses film, objects, drawings, sound and costumes to create atmospheric landscapes. Byrne recreates the magical moments of daydreams and visions to create sensitive, deeply personal and spiritual works with dark cinematic effect.
Byrne's 16mm film ‘Dream Family’ (2011) is a mysterious and fragmented collection of nostalgic scenarios led by five colour-coded goddess-priestess figures, a cultish faction in shrouded costumes who perform sacred rituals within landscapes in which elements remain but seasons change. There is quiet witchcraft embedded in each visual frame; a visual poetry rooted in nature, eternal mysteries, sex and interpretation.
 
Similarly, Marlene Steyn (1989, South Africa) produces drawings and paintings that are a natural extension of her imagination. She creates landscapes in which fantastical characters respond to the bizarre scenarios they find themselves in. Figures spawn other figures, like buds growing from trees – knees, limbs and arms are decapitated to reveal new lives springing forth. A figure shares a orofice with another figure, whose beard is braided into yet another’s nose hair, a strange biological and visceral endless cycle of repair and renewal.
Through drawings, paintings, bronze and ceramics Steyn creates divine creatures and free landscapes that combine daydreaming, classical mythology, and psychoanalysis theories. Steyn is drawn to the points where histories, contemporary culture, psychology and imagination become entangled. She references historical texts, ancient tapestries and even magic carpets for their ability to unsettle the restraints of a linear and coherent narrative from a Western perspective.
 
An aspirational failure is woven throughout the fabric that makes up Island. Not an aspiration for failure but an aspiration for ideals which experience or history has revealed are often destined to fail: Utopian ideologies, the high minded intentions of colonialism, the current state of our politics and international relations, the problem these encounter in connection to ownership of and relationship to land.

 

Island Adaptations I and II were two exhibitions that occurred at g39 in the summer 2015:

Adaptation I & II  4th July – 12th September 2015  g39, Cardiff

Adaptation I: Insula  

Freddy Dewe Mathews, Outpost: Helen Sharp

Adaptation II: WE 

Paul Chaney, Alasdair Duncan, Tim Etchells, Huw Greenwood, Ellie Harrison, Kenna Hernly, Ryan Mc Clelland, Mark Titchner and Suzanne Treister. 

Island is an evolving programme of exhibitions, commissions, film, food, performance, music and community led events in three parts: Adaptations I, II, III 

Island Adaptation I, II explores the disparate notions of isolation and community in two exhibitions:

Adaptation I: Insula  

Freddy Dewe Mathews looks at the imposed culture on an isolated place through his rigorous research into the most far remote island in the world, Bouvetøya. In his published book Bouvetøya: A Cultural History of an Isolated Landmass Dewe Mathews looks at both dubious historical expeditions and fictions that use the uninhabitable island as their setting. In Adaptation I Dewe Mathews creates a new installation that reinterprets his own previously exhibited material and research to further explore the idea of physical separation from the island and the blankness that inhabits it, which allows for projections of myths onto it.

Dr. Helen Sharp is an artist from the Outer Hebrides, every week she will post a field report from her remote Outpost; her studio and home on an island in a lake in Ireland. She offers an innocent and abstract account of an artist’s island that takes inspiration from Tove Jansson’s fictional short stories, The Summer Book.

Although Sharp’s island exists, the definition of Island is malleable, isolating oneself from ‘mainland’ (mainstream) culture in search of something better, some alternative. The Island is an often used as a romanticised metaphor for the domain of artistic creation; the retreat or time away from the ordinary to focus or develop something new which alters our response to the everyday.

‘He wanted an island all of his own: not necessarily to be alone on it, but to make it a world of his own’ (Lawrence, DH. The Man Who Loved Islands).

‘Dreaming of islands—whether with joy or in fear, it doesn't matter—is dreaming of pulling away, of being already separate, far from any continent, of being lost and alone—or it is dreaming of starting from scratch, recreating, beginning anew.’ (Deleuze, Desert Islands.)

Adaptation II: WE is a more chaotic programme with a wide spectrum of artworks by Paul Chaney, Alasdair Duncan, Tim Etchells, Huw Greenwood, Ellie Harrison, Kenna Hernly, Ryan Mc Clelland, Mark Titchner and Suzanne Treister  that look at common themes of being separate, starting afresh and challenging what is lacking in current mainstream culture. Looking at earlier influential subcultures like the romanticised, mind altering confidence of the 1960’s intentional communities. Affirming the benefits of alternative living from free love, working together, common land and self sufficiency. The foundation of these societies being the fundamental preconception of common ownership, that greed and self-love are the natural extensions of ownership and a controlled society.  A visit to the Island is for the most part about escaping ‘reality,’ in parallel challenging the complex beast of cities and civic structure. 

Collaborations with/
Yn cydweithredu â: 
Annexinema,
BEEF,
Outland Arts,
Landfill Editions,
Made in Roath
& Island Encyclopaedia
by Nicholas Johnson

Adaptation III: Native  3rd October - 12th December 2015  (launch Friday 2nd October)

Darren Banks, Nadine Byrne, Nicholas Johnson, Serena Korda and Marlene Steyn

This project website will be updated regularly with accumulated artist and programme information throughout Island Adaptations I, II & III. 

Island is a starting point, a programme that takes an experimental approach and is working with growing number of contemporary artists and collaborators throughout the year.

Adaptation I: Insula
Freddy Dewe Mathews
Outpost: Helen Sharp

Adaptation II: WE
Paul Chaney,
Alasdair Duncan,
Tim Etchells,
Huw Greenwood, 
Ellie Harrison,
Kenna Hernly,
Ryan McClelland,
Mark Titchner &
Suzanne Treister

Collaborations with/
Yn cydweithredu â: 
Annexinema,
BEEF,
Outland Arts,
Landfill Editions,
Made in Roath
& Island Encyclopaedia
by Nicholas Johnson