Open Eye gallery mixes artists old and new with double display of photographic art

Ruth Hazard | 09 July 2012
Nicolas Milhé's three metre sculptural postcard features a tranquil Alpine setting penetrated by a vertical arrow-slit aperture© Nicolas Milhé
Exhibitions: Still Outside (or Unexplained) and Erwin Wurm: One Minute Sculptures, Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool, until September 2 2012

The summer season at Open Eye gallery gives visitors a chance to enjoy work spanning the breadth of the contemporary photographic-art scene, with a main exhibition featuring four innovative modern artists shown alongside archive material from cult favourite, Erwin Wurm.

In the main exhibition space, Swiss-born Pietro Mattioli presents his photographic series, Two Thousand Light Years from Home, showing pictures taken as his child slept at home during three seasons in 2006-7.

Mattioli shot his pictures of nocturnal landscapes while his child slept at night
© Pietro Mattioli
The display documents the artist’s nocturnal wanderings (which never strayed beyond the reach of his baby's monitor signal) showing how the pool of light created by his camera flash was able to transform an array of otherwise familiar objects.

Joining Mattioli’s work are the sculptural creations of Nicolas Milhé, which aim to explore issues of power and surveillance, as well as the seductiveness of images.

His three metre-long sculpture, emblazoned with a tranquil Alpine landscape, is penetrated by a vertical arrow-slit aperture that is designed to change the gallery into a territory under surveillance, highlighting the sinister terrain behind the idealised image of the northern European hillsides.

Video work by Rebecca Lennon uses white spray-paint to coat a series of debris objects found on a city street, mirroring the lines that mark the location of a corpse at a murder scene.

Lennon also presents a large-scale sound installation in the glazed concourse adjacent to the gallery. In what the she describes as a “call from the wild, in reverse”, cries of seagulls sampled from YouTube burst intermittently into the space.

Also at the space is the work of photographic artist, Alison Stolwood, who takes a critical look at the idea of nature as something pure and picturesque.

Wurm counts Flea from rock band, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, among his cult of followers© Erwin Wurm
“I use the lens as an aid to observation and as a tool for manipulation, power and control,” explains Stolwood, whose images highlight the impact of human interference on the environment.

The gallery’s archive exhibition celebrates the early work of Erwin Wurm, who uses photography and film to capture transient sculptural works.

Since the late 1990s Wurm has been developing One Minute Sculptures, an ongoing series in which the artist or his models pose in spontaneous ways with everyday items.

The pictures document a range of inanimate objects being brought to life - pencils are insterted into ears, eyes are used to balance chairs. 

“The fundamental steps consisted in abandoning the idea of durability and infinity,” Wurm explains.

“Sculpture could also last for just a few minutes, a few seconds. The works were transported to the level of the immediate present.”

Presented with both a good dose of humour and an underlying cynicism, the display questions the definition of sculpture, as well as drawing on wider issues about consumer focused society.

  • Open: Tues-Sat 10.30am-5.30pm, Closed Sun and Mon
    Admission: Free

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