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The problem with Bonnie Camplin’s new exhibition isn’t that its premise is pseudo-bollocks: anyone who regularly goes to see art will know that pseudo-bollocks is often loads of fun. And to be fair, visitors can make up their own minds about the show’s subject matter being (according to the press release) ‘transmitted to and downloaded by the artist through psychic communication’. The problem is that, for all of Camplin’s big ideas about consciousness and ‘consensus reality’, what’s on display is just dull.
‘The Eight Pieces’ is a series of works that, for the most part, have been transcribed from (what look like) notebook-sized drawings to much larger C-prints, mounted on plywood and hung or propped around the space. The general vibe is weird: cats attached to wire-frame boxes with electric cathodes. Potentially, the translation from scribbled micro to gallery-scale macro could have been interesting. But these cold, clinical, monochrome panels rob the drawings of any verve they might have once had. There are digitally created images too: circles in fractal arrangements; Zodiac-style rings of humans, human embryos, cats and cat embryos. None of it meshes into any kind of rewarding experience. A feeling of po-facedness hangs over the show. Psychic non-believers are unlikely to be converted.
Turner Prize-nominated Camplin has made far better work in the past: her films, especially, are full of vitality and humour. And all her metaphysical ideas sound impressive, on paper at least. But if they don’t make the passage into art that a) explains them or b) looks any good, then it begs the simple question: what’s the point?