Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Sam Taylor-Wood 'Yes I No'

The White Cube gallery has taken over a disused retail site on Covent Garden to display a site-specific photographic installation, Yes I No, by Sam Taylor-Wood. It's a large space split for the exhibition by an upper mezzanine. On the one hand it look like a poorly reconstructed Victorian building where the threat of damp or collapse might be more of a promise. However there is a steel-and-glass lift in a corner which would suggest that the shell is rather more surface.

Either way it is a good, light space for these photographs, particularly the Self-Portrait series. I liked the colour of the balloons in the bleached monochrome of the building. Not only the colour but the purposefulness - the perkiness - of the balloons holding the artist's consciousless body free of the ground made me look over my shoulder as I've already described - what's holding up this derelict place.

I was less enamored by the clowns (I thought the photographic prints were a little compromised and, under glass and lit by spotlight, therefore imperfect for viewing). Much more interesting was the juxtaposition of the alternative but congruent settings in which the photographs had been shot. I recognise the need for a focal figure to offset and season the prints but I didn't really understand the need for clowns-in-themselves.

It's a good place to go if you've time, which I didn't have. Sam Taylor-Woods' work often repays a some time (her rotten fruit timelapse film Still Life (2001) in the Tate's collection makes a subject of it) and ruminating on the composition as well as the content of her work is an important part of the experience. Having said that, Yes I No is now closed...

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