James Richards: Migratory Motor Complex
PREVIEW: Friday 23 February, 6 — 8pm
EXHIBITION: Saturday 24 February — Saturday 26 May
James Richards’ interest lies in the possibility of the private amidst the chaos of quotidian media. His work makes use of a growing bank of material that includes cinema, works by other artists, camcorder footage, murky late night TV and archival research. Means of producing and displaying images are central to his methodology and he unpacks the image as both subject and object, unfolding ways in which fragments of the present can connect with those of the past, the hidden with the visible, and the sentient with the physical.
Richards’ presentation includes Migratory Motor Complex (2017), a six-channel electro-acoustic installation that explores the capacity of sound to render artificial spaces and locate sonic and melodic events within them. Woven throughout the piece are re-occurring vocal and musical motifs that have been developed in collaboration with Kirsten Evans and Samuel Williams, students of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. The work has then been tuned in situ, with Richards reacting to the acoustic contingencies of the site as he creates a cinematic and multi-sensory experience — an arrangement of vivid emotional cues to be navigated subjectively.
What weakens the flesh is the flesh itself (2017) is a video made with collaborator Steve Reinke. The starting point for the work is a series of images found in the private archive of Albrecht Becker — a production designer, photographer and actor imprisoned by the Nazis for being homosexual. Amongst pictures of friends and photographs taken whilst serving in World War II is a collection of staged self-portraits that reveal an obsessive commitment to body modification, tattooing and his own image: duplicated, repeated and reworked with collage and darkroom revision.
This extraordinary collection of images serves as the backbone for the video, an extended meditation on the archive, photography and the body. The double self-portrait is redoubled, repeatedly — a mise en abyme; the self is lost as the flesh proliferates, escaping death, returning as a thin image resonant with desire and possibility.
The presentation in Wales also includes Not Blacking Out, Just Turning The Lights Off (2011). Tapping into seamless image streams proliferated by the mass media, the work teeters between the sensual realm and something more anxious and violent, pointing toward the experience of existing in a constant, at times oppressive, dialogue with technology.
Please note that the audio installation titled Migratory Motor Complex will be in Stiwdio Seligman until 10 March only.
About the artist
James Richards (born 1983) was brought up in Cardiff and lives and works in Berlin. He studied for Foundation at UWIC (now Cardiff Metropolitan University) and graduated from Chelsea School of Art in 2006.
Recent solo exhibitions include 'Abyss Film', Kestner Gesellschaft, Hanover; 'Requests and Antisongs', ICA London; 'Crumb Mahogany', Bergen Kunsthall and 'Radio at Night', Museum of Contemporary Art Bordeaux (all 2016); 'James Richards', Kunstverein Munchen (2015); 'Raking Light', Cabinet (2014), and 'Not Blacking Out Just Turning The Lights Off', Chisenhale London (2011).
Selected group exhibitions include 'Whitney Biennial 2017', Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2017); 'Less Than Zero', Walker Arts Center, Minneapolis (2016); 'British Art Show 8', touring exhibition, UK (2015-16); 'Saltwater: A Theory Of Thought Forms', 14th Istanbul Biennial, Istanbul, 'Walks', Andrew Kreps, New York, 'Safe', Home, Manchester (all 2015); 'Ars Viva Prize', Grazer Kunstverein, Graz, Bonner Kunstverein, Bonn and Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg (2014-15); 'Burning Down The House', 10th Gwangju Biennial, Gwangju, South Korea, 'Cut to Swipe', MoMA, New York, 'Looking Back: The Eighth White Columns Annual' (selected by Pati Hertling), White Columns, New York (all 2014); 'Meanwhile… Suddenly and Then', 12th Biennale de Lyon, Lyon, 'The Image Thought', Kamel Mennour Gallery, Paris, 'Otherwise Unexplained Fires', Malmö Konsthall, Malmö, 'The Encyclopaedic Palace', 55th International Art Exhibition La Biennale di Venezia, Venice (all 2013).
Richards was a recipient of a Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award (2015), The Jarman Award for Film and Video (2012) and was shortlisted for the 2014 Turner Prize. Richards was selected for the 2017 Whitney Biennial.
James Richards is represented by Cabinet, London, Galerie Isabella Bortolozzi, Berlin and Rodeo, London.
About Exhibition and Partners
James Richards: Music for the Gift was originally commissioned by Cyngor Celfyddydau Cymru | Arts Council of Wales and Wales Arts International — Celfyddydau Rhyngwladol Cymru with support and collaboration from the Welsh Government and British Council. Music for the gift was first presented at Cymru yn Fenis Wales in Venice for the the 57th Venice Biennale titled @VIVA ARTE VIVA.
The exhibition in Wales is made possible with support from Art Fund, The Colwinston Charitable Trust, The Henry Moore Foundation and G39.