VULPES VULPES
Nick Crowe and Ian Rawlinson

Midden

3 – 20 October 2013

Nick Crowe and Ian Rawlinson
, Hyun Woo Lee
, Alex Duncan 
and Vanessa Maurice-Williams

As part of the Art Licks Weekend, Vulpes Vulpes was shortlisted for the Artquest Workweek Prize 2013.

Vulpes Vulpes presented the inaugural exhibition at the new project space at 17 Blue Anchor Lane, Bermondsey.

Midden is an archaeological term used to describe the remains or deposits that mark a former habitation site, often a heap or pit containing discarded objects, waste, bone, structural remnants and other cultural leavings; now artefacts. The work here offers a sensation of excavation and discovery, the simultaneous experience of many times and spaces.

Vanessa Maurice Williams’ Portal is situated at the entrance of the ‘excavation site’, a section of the gallery which is in a very raw state, dingy dark and cavernous like a catacomb or vault. Her site specific relief protects the now exposed site from the outside world with its plastic curtain and sheeting. Inside the site, Crowe and Rawlinson’s work appear like masks looming from the dim passage walls, suggestive of idols both holy and demonic, they could be modern talismans or curses.

Through archaeological and ethnographic research, ideas are formed about the nature of past activity, culture and society. However notions of past civilisations are not only constructed through historical study, they are also shaped by fantasy and imagination – in interpretation; fictions, visual arts, literature and cinema. Hyun Woo Lee’s short film talks of a fantasy archive containing abstract remnants of thought and language. Are our present day lives, then, littered with the residue of other-ly civilisations?

In the 1959 film Journey to the Centre of the Earth, (based on Jules Vern’s book) an archaeological expedition sets off on a voyage of discovery. As the travellers descend, going deeper underground, different eras in the earth’s formation are experienced at each layer. In 1950s and 1960s cinema, these kinds of epic geographical landscapes were built physically (not with CGI) from light materials like sheet wood, foam and plastics. The resulting sensational fantasy geologies are representations of the environment which are factually inaccurate; the man made crystals and stones of movie sets simulate a false sense of geological matter.

Alex Duncan has collected the elements of his installation through expeditions to the coast and riverbanks. Polystyrene and other unknown man-made materials have undergone a process of corrosion, as the pieces are gradually weathered these materials which are substances manipulated by man, becomes once again reshaped by the environment. Over time they appear more and more like natural stones.