Saturday, 2 April 2011

Manfred Pernice - déjàVu @ DCA

There’s a freestanding structure in the middle of the DCA’s main gallery, rather crudely assembled from chipboard and presenting a different colour from each of its four quadrants. The walls of Tutti are decorated with assorted papers, some affixed with black and white photocopies from undisclosed sources. One image is a painting of a stern-looking 19th century gentleman, another a page from a 1960s-looking textbook showing patterns of geometric shapes. From another quadrant a DVD shows scenes from a drab Cumbernauld shopping centre, and over among a scattering of cuboid seats a few board games offer up vaguely Modernist-themed amusements. “Make ‘N’ Break EXTREME” promises one, spelled out in lurid colours and zany typography. From the centre a plastic spiral staircase leads to the roof of the haphazard construction, and once the viewer reaches the summit they are met with a panorama of the empty gallery walls below. When describing the art of the German sculptor Manfred Pernice, the phrase “anti-monumental” is sometimes thrown around. It seems to capture nicely enough the imposing scale and humble everyday materials that make up his practice, and it’s an approach applied throughout his déjàVu installation. Elsewhere in the show, empty juice cartons and plastic keyrings are cluttered together in Sonderausstellung (special exhibition), an “exhibition within an exhibition” that includes a pair of second hand landscape paintings, another cube in chipboard and a configuration of detritus salvaged from the artist’s studio floor. In this show Pernice gives us a set of objects that may be formally engaging but much of the work is presented without context and becomes a parade of more-or-less interesting second-hand shapes. An array of artifacts without mystery or even a great deal of presence, the anti-monumental here runs the risk of appearing somewhat inconsequential.

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