Saturday, 18 February 2017

Haris Epaminonda and the .... not very much at all actually.

I've got a fairly high tolerance for pretentiousness but Haris Epaminonda's VOL XX at the Rodeo Gallery on Charing X Rd was, for fear of sounding like the fuddy-duddy I no doubt actually am, just taking the piss. I felt cheated. It didn't cost anything but it felt like a wasted journey. The highlight was certainly people watching in the February late afternoon sunshine in Soho Square afterwards.

It comes to something when the flight of unvarnished stairs leading up into the gallery is one of the most interesting things you see in your entire visit. Maybe I'm missing something so let me explain to you, in pretty much its entirety, what this show consisted of:-

Once you're up the stairs there's a room divided in two. Red carpeted, white walled. In one corner of the room there's an, admittedly pretty, stone table with a candle burning atop of it. That's the very best bit. After that there's a selection of wall hung black and white pictures of flowers with their Latin names. In the corner of the room (see last picture) there's another 'thing'. I wasn't sure if it was part of the exhibition or not so, on that basis alone, it became the most intriguing object in the room.

The two most intriguing things of all though were why this young Cypriot artist had been granted an exhibition at all and how it all fed into the rather grandiose press release which includes lines like this:-

"Taking disparate material from her hidden collection of poetry, books, historical objects from various geographies and civilizations, she conducts an invisible ritual, a long and quiet performance"

and this:-

"The decisive moment in time, this eternal pause is what the viewer experiences, as she could go on and on eternally"

and, most bafflingly of all, this:-

"The full moon rising from the sea of Cyprus becomes the shadow for the works on paper as well as the developed sculptures - the labyrinth - when connections become unclear and geographies merge. This group of collages is a recent series made from books of Roman and Egyptian art juxtaposed with a black and white series of ikebana arrangements; the Portuguese text is open for free associations and interpretations, as everything else"

Ok, so it's an ongoing series (Epaminonda started her Volumes in 2009) so perhaps some context would've helped. Or maybe I just don't get it? Maybe there's nothing to get and I'm just supposed to experience the space. In which case an empty room, or the aforementioned Soho Square, would have served better. I'd certainly love to hear a better explanation and appreciation of the work than the one given in the press release. A brief Guardian piece describes the work as 'poetic and contemplative'. I'm afraid the poetry appeared to me as doggerel and all that was contemplated was, from the artist's perspective, her navel, and from this viewer's perspective, what the fuck he was doing with his time, his life!? He's only got one life. He shouldn't be wasting it on shit like this.

I started to wonder if even the candle, the best thing remember, was part of the exhibition. This experience was so spiritually draining, such a waste of time, that I started to question the value of visiting art galleries in its entirety. Nevertheless I walked over to Eastcastle Street to try to see, as planned, an exhibition of Charles Avery's works at Pilar Corrias. It was closed.

Then a motorcycle courier nearly knocked me down. Even though I was on the pavement he decided it was my fault and launched into a volley of abuse. What a crap afternoon. Spirits were only lifted with a feta borek in Simit Sarayi.

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