Philip Newcombe’s new installation is on view in Maria Stenfors Gallery in London. Except the gallery is closed, and the work itself isn't actually on view. And now you are probably wondering what it is all about. Did I make a mistake? What is an exhibition without the artwork, or the showing space? Why should anyone in their right mind go and stand in front of the closed gallery door to see the art that doesn’t really exist? Is this false advertising? My answer to you is no and Interlude is one of Newcombe’s works that you definitely need to check out.
Firstly, we need to address the elephant in the room and to explain how this exhibition is even physically possible. Although the gallery is closed for visitors, it is not much of a problem, because the exhibition itself deals with highly conceptual and suggestive approach to gallery space and to the ways we experience space in general. During the interlude, or the gap between regular exhibitions, the gallery is empty, and this emptiness is the perfect setting for imagination to take over. The solitary speaker is placed on one of the walls, transmitting repetitive sounds that can be heard from the outside of the gallery if you decide to pass by. Ready-made tunes obtained from YouTube are played in short periods of time creating a perfect sound loop. The sound is described by the gallery as similar to the telephone systems while the caller is on hold, or a muzak associated with elevators. Although the gallery stays almost empty, except for the speaker, it surely shows how art can be actively received even when the showing space is deliberately removed.
Philip Newcombe is a London-based artist known for his interventions on simple and ordinary objects. Through his career, he often explored ways in which artistic practice can transcend frames of physical spaces and move beyond time and space boundaries. In many of his projects, he is addressing the limits of white cube aesthetics which is the dominant one in almost any gallery room. In this installation, Philip Newcombe is questioning the whole existence of a gallery as a medium between the artwork and the audience. His Interlude, or ɪntəˌluːd, in a deliberate phonetical description, shows that art can exist and interact with spectators even if it exists in a dematerialized state, solely as a suggestion or a hint of a possible narrative.
Maria Stenfors Gallery in London is the place you simply must visit if you want to test your imaginative skills. The Interlude exhibition started on July 1st and will run until July 14th, 2015. The exhibition is on view, or even better, it is on hearing twenty-four hours a day. You can experience this creative endeavor from the outside corridor of the gallery, peeking through the letterbox, or in the short film recorded for this occasion.
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All images and the video courtesy of the artist and Maria Stenfors Gallery