August 2010, Unrealised Potential

Len Horsey & Brian Reed, PLANTA DE ANODIZADO, 2010
Image of Amy Rudolph

Unrealised Potential
70 Oxford Street
Manchester, M1 5NH
July 17 through September 12, 2010

Featuring projects by Mike Chavez-Dawson (Potential Hits); Sam Ely and Lynn Harris (Unrealized Projects); Len Horsey and Brian Reed (realizing “Planta De Anodizado” by Liam Gillick), Gavin Wade (Strategic Questions); and RELAX (chiarenza & hauser & co)

Additional participating artists include:
Artgoes, Artlab (Charlotte Cullinan & Jeanine Richards), Franko B , Edward Barton, Megan Bell, Eddie Berg, Bert & Ganddie, Monica Biagioli, Paul Anthony Black, Garth Bowden, Andrew Bracey, Roisin Byrne, Jane Chavez-Dawson, Norman Clayture, Conor McGarrigle, Contents May Vary, Benjamin Cove, Nick Crowe, Neil Cummings, Oliver East, Volker Eichelmann, Tim Etchells, Doug Fishbone, Leo Fitzmaurice, Yuen Fong Ling, Sue Fox, Mark Garry, David Gledhill, David Griffiths, Janet Griffiths, Richard Healy, Harry Hill, Clare Hope, Len Horsey, Dave Hoyland, John Hyatt, Mark Kennard, Jessica Lack, Laurence Lane, Little Artists (Darren Neave & John Cake), Leigh McCarthy, Roger McKinley, Jim Medway, Jason Minsky, Tom Morton, Neil Mulholland, Robin Nature-Bold, Hayley Newman, Franz Otto Novotny, Owl Project, Graham Parker, Simon Patterson, Adele Prince, Magnus Quaife, Brian Reed, David Shrigley, W. David Titley, Surplus Value, Beata Veszely, Jessica Voosanger, Cecilia Wee, Richard Wilson, Christine Wong Yap, Stuart Wright, Kai-Oi Jay Yung

At the very top of Cornerhouse in Gallery 3, Gavin Wade replays 40 strategic questions that R. Buckminster Fuller once set forward as a “design strategy” towards “total success for all humanity for ever.” Fuller’s strategy is dialogic and collaborative --it depends on abstract discussion and widespread agreement. Strategic Questions is a great place to start your engagement with Unrealised Potential, an ambitious artist-led exhibition, because throughout the show impossibility and failure are as playful and meaningful as the potential for everyone to get involved.

Gavin Wade’s on-gong project commissions various international artist groups to respond to Fuller’s 40 questions in dialogue, artwork and publication. For this exhibition, RELAX (chiarenza & hauser & co) took on Fuller’s twenty-ninth question: “What is wealth?” With a manifesto denying wealth, they created the installation, Waste, as a space for viewers to loll about, play roulette and browse the publications generated so far by Wade’s larger project. This gallery’s aesthetic is pretty crude and disjointed, as if to suggest that wealth, or the act of wasting, is at such a late stage that all that is left to consider is waste. It is from the environment of left-overs, that we are given a place to reflect on the economic strategies that have thus far produced our success and failure.

As with Waste, all of Unrealised Potential makes strong associations between art production and economy. Ideas cost something, and access to the economy of ideas is available for the audience through various currencies, including time, effort, personal goods (in exchange for borrowing of the publications locked and guarded in an ”exchange cage”), money, as well as looking and imagining.

RELAX, What is wealth, 2010
Installation view Gallery 3; Photo credit Brian Slater


Moving down to Gallery 1, the viewer is confronted with the most direct association of ideas to money. (I am following the trail of Amy Rudolph’s performance as exhibition tour guide.) With the merging of Mike Chavez-Dawson’s Potential Hits with Sam Ely and Lynn Harris’ Unrealised Projects, the audience is offered, for a fee, partnership in the production of art. The display of artists’ ideas as an archive of texts reaches back to Lucy Lippard’s set of index cards in her series of exhibitions named for the populations of the cities, in which the generated ideas from artists were realized at low cost by local participants and supporters (“557,087” in Seattle, 1969; “955.000” in Vancouver, 1970; “2,972,453” in Buenos Airies, 1970). Lippard recounted that the exhibition’s premise was a low cost strategy for involving many artists in a group show that could not in itself support costly transport (Six Years, 1997). If in the 70s conceptual strategies were a low cost strategy for disseminating ideas in a product-driven economy, does the legal and commercial framework through which ideas are distributed in Unrealised Potential suggest the entrapments of ideas in what’s been called a post-Fordist economy? The economic associations of art production to public involvement is nicely summarized by David Glenhill in an essay produced in one of the project’s publications.

Finally, the tour ends with Planta De Anodizado in Gallery 2. From Liam Gillick’s proposal to exhibit products from a specific Mexican manufacturer of aluminum parts in a gallery context, Brian Reed and Len Horsey’s installation sets an ambitious standard for realizing potential art. The work situates the viewer within an animated marketing environment where references to the Mexican War of Independence (its flag colours) and shanty housing press up against the choreographed and uniformed service delivered by automatized women. This mechanization and the final display of the aluminum parts, as proposed by Gillick, is a neat metaphor for the entire exhibition. The making of art can be associated with the production of obsolete parts through an obsolete industry. The end of this display is like a Día de los Muertos arrangement where the objects have been removed from their original purpose and are now performing a ritualistic and representative function ---a site of grief and potential. In the words of the product demonstrators -

Of course, due to recent legislation and required narrative guarantees, LGD LUCK SA company products can no longer be an alternative....

HOSTESS TWO the present...

...only a possibility for the future.”

Like many artist-run initiatives, Unrealised Potential oversteps itself with the possibilities that seemed to have opened up as artists and participants joined in: there are a number of publications produced as artist’s papers and books; each of the core artists projects have web components that can be followed like a string of networked ideas; the video has a trailer on line; and there is the performed gallery tour in which a character from the video delivers live a script produced by video creator, Len Horsey. The exhibition itself will tour the UK, and future iterations will inevitably adapt to new unrealized potentials.

Unrealised Potential is overall much more generous than the ruthlessness suggested in Gallery 1. The artists have let their ideas get bigger than first imagined, implying that given the opportunity --whether through legalistically bound contracts or through wasting time by reading and talking in the storage room, we will likely do the same.

Len Horsey & Brian-Reed, PLANTA DE ANODIZADO, 2010
Installation view, Gallery 2; Photo credit: Brian-Slater


Len Horsey & Brian Reed, PLANTA DE ANODIZADO, 2010
Instalation view of products; Photo-Brian-Slater


Len Horsey & Brian Reed, PLANTA DE ANODIZADO
Installation view gallery 2; Photo credit Brian Slater

RELAX, What is wealth, 2010
Installation view Gallery 3; Photo credit Brian Slater


Sam Ely & Lynn Harris with Mike Chavez Dawson, Unrealised-Potential, 2010
Gallery 1, Installation view; Photo by Brian Slater

Lois Klassen

Lois Klassen is a Vancouver-based artist. In June and July 2010, she collaborated with Mary Oliver (Faculty of Music, Media and Performance, University of Salford) to produce Offit, a residency that reflected on the emergence of an arts centre in an area experiencing rapid urban regeneration. The residency was hosted by Hub M3 in Salford, Greater Manchester.


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