After the much-anticipated launch of Frieze London in The Regent’s Park yesterday - in which 160 of the most exciting galleries have all come together over four days to view and buy art from over 1000 contemporary artists - the art crowd headed East to Millers Avenue, Dalston, for an evening with Marine Tanguy Art and her inaugural group show, ‘Fragments Of’.
Tucked away down a side lane, with industrial containers stacked up at the end and candyfloss-coloured bunting trailing ahead, guests piled into MC Motors - a 6,000 square foot Victorian warehouse that was heavily bombed during the second world war, re-built in the 1950s, and which has since been used as a factory, car park, theatre, and by The Gaslight and Coke Company.
Walking down the colour-changing stairwell lit with candles, bright purple and green lights jumped up against the corrugated iron walls, reverberating from the greying plastic ceiling and charcoal-grey industrial staircase like a modern-day Aladdin’s cave, haunting and enticing.
An outside room immediately revealed one of exhibiting artist Scarlett Bowman’s large fabric installations, hanging solo aside from a beaming spotlight. The earthy flesh and grey swathes of creased fabric, flayed outwards at the top and tapered inwards towards the bottom, created an eery sense of the iconic crucifixion shape – and with the industrial background, it evoked feelings of a historical execution by shooting, all for the drama and haunting atmosphere that was created for the viewer by the artistic display.
However, art is very much subjective and the actual message behind Bowman’s pieces was one of materiality, in which touch and vision are in contradiction, and viewers are asked to question their notions of production – both artistic and industrial. Another two of Bowman’s vertically hung tapestries, which played with contrasting colourways of monochrome and bright oranges and neons, were hung within the main exhibiting room. Viewers could walk around the pieces, exploring the craft and exposed techniques from all angles, immersing themselves in the contrast between industrial manufacture and the human hand. These pieces were accompanied in conversation by floor-based sculptures. The question of “what is made?” was left to the viewer to answer.
The atmosphere was electric as the guests filtered into the large factory space, filling the floor – their faces upon walking through the door all expressing a sense of bewilderment and awe at the artistic haven within which they had entered. Speaking about the evening, Marine Tanguy comments: “Last night felt very emotional as the creative process behind each work of art and the curation itself has been on our minds and hands for weeks. I am truly appreciative of the number of wonderful people who came all the way to see it.”
Walter & Zoniel, who have pioneered the soon-to-be published Formationism manifesto alongside Tanguy - an idea that underpins the ‘Fragments Of’ exhibition - had several of their pieces dotted around the room, including an image of a burning chair and seascapes of favourite childhood locations that had, in fact, been created using the sea itself, scooped up with their own hands and turned into artwork. They also used the evening as chance to create their first incarnation of an enormous camera with a gigantic lens and extended exposure times, which was capable of shooting life-sized positive print artworks.
Every so often, Tanguy clanged the old fire alarm rhythmically and guests huddled around Alison Bignon’s paper artworks displayed on the concrete floor, cradling their glasses of wine. The contemporary images acted as lyrical visuals, while Bignon’s soft, romantic voice rang out around the hushed building. Her poetic recordings – in homage to novelist, playwright and experimental filmmaker, Marguerite Duras - offered a sense of musicality to the evening, with English translations passed around to those who didn’t speak French.
Tristan Pigott’s painting was hung nearby; it offered an exploration of the role of technology within our everyday relationships and conversation. Juxtaposing realistic figures with a surreal backdrop, but blurring the lines between the two through the enlarged feet of the subjects, the piece delineated a child-like freedom, as shown in the Petits Filous tubs discarded by the couple in the image on the table. Pigott hoped to explore the way in which human ego is translated into image, an important dialogue to be had in the narcissistic era of the #selfie.
Jean-François Le Minh explored the medium of sculpture; his choice of bright primary colours again burst forth a child-like freedom to the artwork on display, in which rules and conventions had flexibility and creation could be reconfigured. Exploring what sculpture might mean to contemporary culture, Le Minh continued his ongoing discourse regarding the status of painting and its atemporality when viewed through the lens of conceptualism.
Beaming up against the brick wall was the curational project of Parisian-born and Tel-Aviv based artist, Jennifer Abessira. A violent and disorientating catalogue of photographs and imagery were cast upon the harsh surface, plunging the viewer into a mind-storm of ideas, cultural references and quotes. The aim was for the screen to resemble a tennis court in which the images bounced from side-to-side like a ball in play, but without ever being engaged.
For PETRIe, the media partner behind ‘Fragments Of’, the night was likewise a resounding success. Positioned alongside Scarlett Bowman, who features in the latest issue, the cover of PETRIe 67 was plastered across vintage grey school lockers, weathered and worn with renaissance modernity. Speaking with artists and guests, there was a contagious energy, as recorded by PETRIe TV. Editor-in-Chief, Zadrian Smith, said, "What is happening right now is the future for media, especially for print publications. Staff can no longer hide behind the iron curtain pushing out content with no sincere obligation to the reader. There's nothing I love more then being engaged in a space like this where dialogue about art, film and all types of media can be discussed in person."
To find out more about Marine Tanguy, read here.
‘Fragments Of’ runs from 13th-17th October and is open daily, 10am-7pm.
The Blue Factory, Miller’s Avenue, Dalston, London, E8 2DS
Words: Grace Carter
Photography: Morgan Hill-Murphy