Nathaniel Mellors and Chris Bloor’s current show :Hypercolon : at SMART Project Space in Amsterdam, is a labyrinth of humorous narratives with a penchant for satire and the grotesque. Mellors and Bloor cleverly incorporate the SMART project Space’s historical function as a morgue, as a starting point to create a narrative framework that pushes and manipulates the relationship between artwork and audience. Each exhibition space is mapped to a specific body part from the right eye down to the colon. The brain being a key element to the exhibition, where it features the new film commission Ourhouse Episode 3 ‘The Cure of Folly’ written and directed by Mellors and co-produced by SMART project space.
For this viewer the most alluring draw of : Hypercolon : is the dialogue between the many artists,
A substantial portion of the exhibition is devoted to the diverse and dynamic exchange that Mellors shares with artistic contemporaries such as Vito Acconci, Brian Catling, Chris Bloor, Mick Peter and Erkka Nissinen, as well as with younger generation of artists including Tala Madani, Linda Quinlan and Timmy Van Zoelen – all of whom, like Mellors, developed deliberately coarse styles and make liberal use of satire and caricatural line.
Entering the exhibition through the right eye, you are greeted with the video work Face-Off (1972), by Vito Acconci where he divulges and then censors his self-revelations. Acconci looms over the audience as they wander around a monochrome and minimal space filled with a fascinating collection of surrealist inspired photographs from the Harry Price Archive. Further into the exhibitions maze, another (sound) work by Acconci is conveniently located in the toilet or genitals/ear, which comes as a welcome surprise when passing from one body part to another.
The left ear exhibition space acts in opposition to the right ear in its consideration of color, imagination and technology. Folk art inspired paintings and drawings by British artists Bob Parks, Brian Catling, Chris Bloor and Mick Peter hang on the walls next to popular cultural works such as Robert Abel’s show reel of adverts from the 1970’s and the demented comic strip, the Brain Bats of Venus by Basil Wolverton. Although disparate in origin, the works in the left ear sits at ease with one another, all equally contributing to the seductive and unconventional orientation of the exhibition.
The audience then guides their way through the spaces of the Mouth, Foot, and Stomach, finally ending up in the Colon with video and sound works by Nathaniel Mellors and Timmy van Zoelen. Both artists use Pier Pailo Pasolini’s film Salo as a reference point, yet create greatly contrasting responses. Mellors continues to use his hyper grotesque aesthetic for the video work Giantbum, where as van Zoelen creates the sublime and hypnotic video, Furious Suns. Using lens flare to identify sunlit moments throughout the film, van Zoelen removes pasolini’s original material leaving glistening flares of light that draw the viewer in, and moves the audience out of the sunless dark intestine of the exhibition.
Mellor’s and Bloor have cleverly constructed a remarkably dense exhibition where the shifting relationship between space and artwork takes the audience on an imaginative excursion through the absurd and peculiar.
: Hypercolon : was conceived by Nathaniel Mellors and Chris Bloor and features Robert Abel, Vito Acconci, Chris Bloor, Paul Lafolley, Pieter van der Heyden, Tala Madani, Nathaniel Mellors, Erkka Nissinen, Bob Parks, Mick Peter, Linda Quinlan, Basil Wolverton, Timmy van Zoelen, works from the Harry Price collection. Throughout the course of the exhibition : Hypercolon : Mellors programmes a series of events and screenings and presents a new performance commission by Brian Catling for Museum Night (5 November). : Hypercolon : will be on view from 3 September until 13 November 2011.