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For their first major exhibition in London, Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard present PUBLICSFEAR, bringing together film, video and sound works made over the past seven years. The artists are primarily known for their ongoing interest in music and sound, but the pieces selected for their South London Gallery show also explore ideas around both being part of and/or observing an audience.
Works range from File under Sacred Music, the artists' meticulous remake in 2003 of The Cramps' 1978 bootleg video of their live performance for a group of patients at the Napa State Mental Institute, through to the film Performer. Audience. Fuck Off, 2009, in which we witness the often hilarious, but sometimes uncomfortable impact on the audience of a stand-up comedian drawing attention to individuals within the group.
Whereas these two pieces feature the direct representation of audiences, in Silent Sound, 2006, scored by J. Spaceman (Spiritualized) and shown here for the first time in London, the tables are turned to heighten gallery visitors' awareness of their own positions as part of an audience, as potential targets for manipulation. Subliminal messaging, we are told, is being employed within this immersive installation to create an exceptionally powerful and moving experience. In stark contrast to this subtle approach, in Walking After Acconci (2005) and Walking Over Acconci (2008) viewers are placed in direct line of verbal attack when rapper Plan B and MC MissOddKidd each rant to the camera about a failed relationship, as if the viewer were the rejected ex. Developing Forsyth & Pollard's interest in re-enactment, both works are based on influential American artist Vito Acconci's Walk-Over (Indirect Approaches), 1973, in which the artist talks to the camera about an unknown 'you'.
The exhibition is accompanied by a programme of evening events in the South London Gallery's Clore Studio, including a panel discussion with three stand-up comedians, chaired by Forsyth and Pollard on 16 February; a screening of some of the artists' works with Nick Cave on 23 February; and an in-conversation event with the artists on 16 March.