14 November 2012 – 1 April 2013
I felt as thought ‘A Bigger Splash’ was a show of two halves. Action paintings, and theatrical sets. The first review of the show I discussed the ‘action’ performances with in the exhibition. The second review of this show, i aim to discuss the more ‘theatrical’ installations.
Karen Kilimnik, Swan Lake (1992)
The majority of the artists in ‘A Bigger Splash’ are women, and the range of responses shown to the objectification of women and exclusion of gender variant and queer perspectives by the Fifties and Sixties performance painters is the exhibition’s most captivating feature.
Towards the end of the show, ‘A Bigger Splash’, femininity and the ballet world are explored in the installation Swan Lake (1992) made by self-professed ballet lover Karen Kilimnik. The work takes the form of a stage set, yet one too small for a cast to inhabit, complete with a landscape, painted in an impressionistic style, black theatre curtains, a swan sled, picture frames with foil mirror, confetti, artificial snow and flakes, two tutus, three ballet shoes, feathers, glass stones, lace, moss, theatre lights, smoke and a recording of Tchaikovsky’s famous score. In Swan Lake and Kilimnik’s later celebrity portraits, painting appears as something that one performs. She rejects modernist notions of painting as an autonomous, masculine practice to create an atmospheric, dream-like experience of painting that bravely embraces stereotypes of femininity and the romantic.
Another work that struck me was Ei Arakawa’s performance SINGLE’S NIGHT (2011-2), performed in the Tanks. This involved single men and women dancing with Jutta Koether’s Mad Garland paintings. In doing so painting became more of a conversation, memory and a means for the viewer and participant to be transported to another realm.