Life, what’s it all about eh? Well, according to ‘All Crescendo, No Reward’ it’s just birth, death and a bit of shopping.
The disparate works on display are (very) loosely united by a theme of life and rebirth. At the show’s heart is Matt Copson’s laser baby projection. The figure starts all small and adorable in the corner and then grows to giant proportions, dancing across the far wall of the space. It discovers the world, feels it, toys with it, tastes it. The mega-baby plays with a gun, swallows an airplane, sings a libretto and then bursts apart and goes right back to the start, all soundtracked by indie fave Caroline Polachek. The baby is a selfish, narcissistic creature, it consumes and grows and bloats until its own avarice tears it apart. Hey, that’s life.,
The other sculptures in the main rooms reinforce the idea of consumption and consumerism. There’s an Ida Ekblad shopping trolley filled with detritus, an abandoned tyre by Mike Nelson, a tower of impaled laptops and a copper shipping boxby Walead Beshty. It’s all the stuff and guff accumulated in the mess of everyday living.
Austrian artist Oliver Laric then appropriates scenes from animation history for his video installation, filled with figures going through some kind of metamorphosis. Characters turn into dogs, birds, ghosts, monsters, trees; they go through big metaphorical, seismic changes. Around the film, scans of classical sculptures are reproduced in resin; the past is reshaped. History repeats, people change. Hey, that’s life.
So far, everything just about hangs together in a fractured meditation on life’s cyclical futility. But it’s hard to see how the final installation fits. American artist Frances Stark’s text-based video pairs booming hip hop samples with Prince quotes, rap lyrics and snippets of an interview with the artist’s friend and muse, a Hispanic man from LA called Bobby Jesus. It’s confrontational, loud, a throbbing paean to friendship, fandom and West Coast injustice. But I haven’t got a clue how that fits in with the rest of the show.
So not all of it works, and some of it’s a bit of a mess. But hey, you know what? That’s life.