Candida Powell-Williams :
The Vernacular History of the Golden Rhubarb

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28 January –

27 March 2017

Candida Powell-Williams’ The Vernacular History of the Golden Rhubarb, immersive installation of sculpture, performance and moving image explores the fetishism of anthropological objects. The artist theatrically transforms the gallery space, conjuring up the constructs of a refashioned archaeological site or museum, which serves as a platform for live events and participatory experiences.

Strewn across the gallery, sculptural caricatured forms draw on absurd and implausible historical narratives: classical columns with arms; a monumental pinecone made of clay tongues; and golden rhubarb atop an obelisk. The objects are hollow-forms with skins constructed of papier-mâché or roughly smothered plaster; in the muted grey landscape, flecks of colour on them allude to a hidden energy.

Low-resolution moving images can be seen on your mobile device, through scanning QR codes available in the exhibition, animating the installation. They are compiled from social media images, captured and disseminated by the participants of a previous performance workshop; a guided-tour devised by the artist and choreographer Joel O’Donoghue. Part obstacle course, part pantomime, the viewer is invited to experience a live version of the exhibition or at one of the programmed performances throughout the course of the exhibition.

The gallery will also host a collaborative project with four artists: Patrick Coyle, Natasha Rosling, Sarah Simmonds and Tamsin Snow at a later stage in the exhibition. Each artist, invited by Candida Powell-Williams, has a particular relationship to collections or museums and will produce an editioned artwork in response to Powell-Williams’ exhibition, creating a chain-like Exquisite Corpse. Playing on the idea of tourist merchandise, the works will be displayed within a museum “shop” at the front the gallery.

Powell-Williams’ installation is a pastiche of the work she produced whilst on a year-long residency in Rome. The project combines her interest in tourist behaviours such as rubbing statues, and a catalogue of bizarre stories about these artefacts gathered from historians and archaeologists. It seeks to capture the sense of spectacle found in exploring historical sites and their dramatization to contemporary visitors such as Audrey Hepburn’s Bocca della Verita, the frescoes from Villa of Livia at Palazzo Massimo, the whimsical atmosphere of the gardens of Bomarzo and the theatrical plaster cast museum in Rome’s University.

An artist book under the same title will be published on the occasion of the exhibition in February 2017. Fully illustrated, it contains an introductory essay by Historian Dr. Oren Margolis. The publication serves as an instruction manual for the exhibition and performances.

Installation Views


Candida Powell-Williams, Footnotes, 2016