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Indepth Arts News:

"ŒSUCCUBUS, BANSHEE AND MEDUSA: Warped Works by 8 Women"
2003-11-28 until 2004-01-17
Comme Ca
Manchester, , UK United Kingdom

Dark and mischievous, with a B-movie, Hammer-Horroresque edge, ŒSuccubus, Banshee and Medusa‚ is the first all-female group show at Comme Ca MCR (previously know as The Comme Ca Art gallery). This eclectic show features an impressive range of works: pencil drawings, paintings, photography, video and posters. All the works take a peculiar, enigmatic twist on the macabre and gothic, the sacred and the profane. Starring: Abigail Lane, Jane Griffiths, Olivia Plender, Adele Myers, Nicola Siddons, Sophia Crilly and Janet Griffiths.

Abigail Lane: Lane emerged as a member of the Freeze generation, and, along with Damien Hirst, Gary Hume and Sarah Lucas, was part of the 1988 exhibition that showcased the works of Goldsmiths College students. Initially Lane was known for large-scale inkpads, wallpaper made with body prints, wax casts of body fragments, and ambiguous installations. Her early works emphasised the physical markings of the body. In this exhibition Lane turns inward, giving form to the illusive and intangible world of the psyche. Coupled with her long-standing fascination with turn-of-the-century phenomena such as séances, freak shows, circuses and magic acts, Lane creates a Œfunhouse-mirror reflection‚ of the life of the mind. Lane presents The Figment‚ a B-Movie-esque poster exploring the existence of the instinctual urges that lie deep within us. Bathed in a vivid red light, the impish boy-figment beckons us, "Hey, do you hear me - I‚m inside you, I'm yours I'm here, always here in the dark, I am the dark, your dark and I want to play." His role is that of a mischievous but not sinister devil on your shoulder‚ who taunts and tempts us to join him in his wicked game.

Jane Griffiths: Griffiths makes use of many different media: video, audio, paintings and multiples (garments, mugs and other domestic items). Over the last few years much of her work has been concerned with daytime television and her personal fascination and celebration of it. Griffiths‚ current artwork takes the gossip and stories of colleagues, friends and new acquaintances, and transforms the tales into biographical portraits. For this show she presents a new cryptic‚ triptych: "Bye Bye old friend" When I am with you‚ and What lies beneath. The layouts of these works have been influenced by the designs of 1970s Mexican movie posters. She uses a preferred paint combination of enamel on gloss. Her style is instantly recognisable and is reminiscent of woodcuts. The visual components are sourced from websites. Griffiths takes low-resolution JPEGs, then reconstructs and deconstructs the images in Photoshop until her trademark graphic images are achieved. The final process involves a pencil transfer technique that is applied to primed gloss boards or box canvas surfaces.

Olivia Plender: her practice comprises drawings, posters and publications. Over the last few years Plender has been working on a comic book about an imaginary London avant-garde of the past, and a series of fictional advertising posters mimicking the appearance of early 20th-century adverts. Stylistically, much of her work looks as if it comes from an earlier era, whether that‚s the 1890s or the 1960s. In part, this is so Plender can revisit and explore early modernist art and design, and examine the conditions and narratives that contributed to modernism: in doing so, she is able to critique the present. The Masterpiece Set‚ is a series of pencil drawings presented by Plender for this show. Set in London in the early 1960s, The Masterpiece‚ is a comic about an unrecognised artistic genius trying to negotiate his way towards success in the stifling atmosphere of bohemian/ hip London. Resulting from research in libraries and archives, the visual appearance of the comic shifts and changes from frame to frame. Meanwhile, the story takes many twists and turns as the character finds himself mixed up in underground life, parties, séances and psychedelic experiences.

Adele Myers: her work explores what it means to be human in our increasingly technological world. The interaction of the audience with her work plays a crucial role. Often making use of video and sound, her work entices the viewer into a profound engagement with the subject matter. According to Myers, "desire, expectation, belief and fulfilment are all elements that pertain to a state of which our contemporary society craves". Myers compares the work to the story of Pandora, whose curiosity unleashed all manner of ills upon the world, and who needed to be shackled and restrained to protect both herself and others. In that particular piece of mythology it was a woman who wreaked enormous havoc, yet, historically, it has been men who have craved power and control, and it is men who have been responsible for most of the violent death and destruction in the world. Myer's new work is a video piece contained within a box. For Myers this alludes to curiosity and is a testimony to environmental chaos, capitalist entropy and global disillusionment. Open it if you dare!

Janet Griffiths: her work features playful, dark-humoured photographic scenarios that incorporate props, prosthetics and digital manipulation. All works are created within her domestic setting (a home-cum-studio-cum-stage). Janet Griffiths‚ latest series of pieces continues the wild imaginings of her alter ego: the universal housewife who lives in a house with her kids. Janet Griffiths creates the characters she dreams of becoming. She makes her own costumes from materials she finds around her, and uses cheap wigs, body parts and props in the same way that people make costumes for fancy dress parties. Janet Griffiths has always had a fascination with 1950s B-movies, horror films and surrealism, and these influences feed the images she creates. Her human-spider picture "Haven't you ever wondered?" uses creature-feature movies as a starting point, and subverts the fear of spiders - a phobia common to many - by turning the housewife into a giant spider lurking in a dirty bathroom. Janet Griffiths‚ housewife alter ego appears in several incarnations including a huge bat, a 50-foot woman and a Virgin Mary. Although the universal housewife is trapped by her domestic environment, she fantasises herself out of her mundane, ordinary existence.

Nicola Siddons: Siddons presents four works (2 new, 2 old) from her Domestic Bliss‚ series. The images focus on the tensions between order and chaos, and the structures we try to apply to our everyday lives in order to maintain a sense of control and meaning. Siddons explores our desires for social acceptability and respectability whilst also questioning our attraction to what lies outside these boundaries in everything considered deviant or taboo. In this sense the photographs relate our fascination with the horrific with a need to step outside the comforts of banality and to experience the potential found within the unknown.

Sophia Crilly: Crilly presents a series of new and compelling black-and-white photographic images. These images are the continuation of a body of work concerned with the theme of identity formation, female narcissism and metamorphosis through the viewing of mainstream film. The work references cinema as a way of analysing patriarchal culture and the construction of idealised femininities. Crilly questions how a woman viewing a film is given access to an objectified and fetishised image of woman on the screen, and works with models to recreate identificatory fantasies based on their memories of influential female film characters. Looking at the depictions of highly sexualised women as a threat to the patriarchal order, and paying homage to the B-movie, the triptych shown here has an implied or suggested narrative - the consequences of which are left up to the viewer to decide.

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