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March 2008, Takahiro Iwasaki and Penny Klepuszewska @ R O O M Gallery



  Upon entering the gallery space. Quotation: Georges Perec.
 Window Text by Ian Whittlesea, London

Takahiro Iwasaki and Penny Klepuszewska
R O O M Gallery, London
Co-curated by Tamsin Clark and Sandie Macrae

In his 1978 novel La Vie mode d’emploi (Life: A User’s Manual) Georges Perec narrated the lives of the inhabitants of a ficticious Parisian apartment block. Below this creation of a complex layered assemblage of different characters and narratives hovers a notion of melancholy: there is no user’s manual to life.


 Installation view, Takahiro Iwasaki, Untitled, 2008,
 construction with books and thread. Copyright the artist,
 courtesy of R O O M Gallery, London

This suspicion arises from the works of Takahiro Iwasaki and Penny Klepuszewska currently exhibited at R O O M Gallery in Shoreditch, London. Iwasaki’s meticulous sculptured assemblages and Klepuszewska’s portraits oscillate between the desire to overcome life’s arduousness by either grasping it, keeping hold of those details that are often overlooked, or forbear from acknowledging its reality and transcend its idiosyncrasy into fiction. Upon entering the gallery space, those alternatives become apparent: while Iwasaki’s carved landscapes and Lilliputian worlds demand our attention, we are inveigled to indulge ourselves in Klepuszewska’s portraits and still lives. Scenes of contemporary human existence are intrinsic to Klepuszewska’s photographs. Often incorporating slightly obscured personal experiences or found occurrences, stories of everyday life, one has to negotiate weather the works are created accounts of the real world or self-contained fictions. Takahiro Iwasaki expresses a similar interest in the visual investigation of people’s lives. With his sculptural installations he invents new situations in which simple items such as socks, bathrobes and thread are assembled and arranged to form elegant, palpable surfaces, attracting ourselves to imagine us inhabiting one of these worlds. In Untitled (2008) Iwasaki constructed cranes out of thread that are overlooking an assemblage of books, amongst them the stories of ‘Peter Pan’ and ‘Alice in the Wonderland’. This fragile installation invites us to imagine upon this continuous building process: to take narratives and use imaginations to step over the routines of our daily life and nurture our visions. Opposite, Penny Klepuszewska’s revives the life of a fox in our fantasy by turning his head as he would look towards the sky and spinning a story around his habits: ‘Found throughout most of the Northern Hemisphere, the red fox (Vulpes vulpes) utilises a wide range of habitats including forests, mountains, farmlands and urban areas. They feed on insects, earthworms, small birds and mammals, eggs, carrion and vegetable matter, especially fruits. Solitary for most of the year, they do not live in dens except in the breeding season but sleep concealed in grasses and thickets with their tails curled around them for warmth’ is the title for this photograph, created in 2008. These are just two examples of how beautifully the vanishing photographs and fragile sculptures communicate throughout the show, culminating upon the viewer’s composition of life.


 Installation view, Takahiro Iwasaki, Untitled, 2008,
 construction with books and thread. Copyright the artist,
 courtesy of R O O M Gallery, London

Both artists’ works suggest a contention with time and space, our perception of it and our consecutive attempts to make use of it. The works propose an alternative to the habit of following a linear narrative. The objects and photographs oscillate between reality and fiction, Klepuszewska’s nostalgic photographs cite of yesteryear, while Iwasaki’s works offer a compromise with an alternative situation, literally on a much smaller scale.


 Penny Klepuszewska, Found throughout most of the Northern
 Hemsiphere, the red fox (Vulpes vulpes) utilises a wide range of habitats
 including forests, mountains, farmlands and urban areas. They feed on
 insects, earthworms, small birds and mammals, eggs, carrion and
 vegetable matter, especially fruits. Solitary for most of the year, they do
 not live in dens except in the breeding season but sleep concealed in grasses
 and thickets with their tails curled around them for warmth.
No. 54, 2008,
 Edition of 6. Archival digital C-type Print. Copyright the artist,
 courtesy of R O O M Gallery, London

Narratives are spun over the conception of time and situation, space and location. One could argue that both artists seem to work with the assumption that the human beings are deficient creatures relying on auxiliary needs to compete with the absolutism of reality, as for example illusion or fiction, nostalgia and melancholy. Under this perspective Klepuszewska’s and Iwasaki’s works could be understood as operating analogical to the images created through metaphors and myths, providing a distance from reality, hesitant towards an orientation and classification of life by means of the everyday, the real.


 Installation View, Takahiro Iwasaki and Penny Klepuszewska, 2008,
 copyright the artists, courtesy R O O M Gallery, London

Once entering the gallery space, the idea of a new, or at least renewed classification of life, as well as of a possible function of art in relation to life becomes irresistible. There is no user’s manual to life. Penny Klepuszewska and Takahiro Iwasaki show us that we do not need a user’s manual to life, as that would limit our freedom of imagination and our creativity towards alternatives. We consider their work in order to imagine it, to overcome life’s arduousness, which lies in the search of such a manual, and endless oscillation: 'I wouldn't like to live in the open air but sometimes I would' – Georges Perec.


Wiebke Gronemeyer WM London



Wiebke Gronemeyer is an independent curator and art writer based in London and Hamburg.
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EMAIL: wiebkeg@hotmail.com

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