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Virginia Overton: ‘Animal Magnetism’

  • Art
  • Goldsmiths CCA, New Cross
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Virginia Overton, copyright the artist, courtesy GCCA.
Virginia Overton, copyright the artist, courtesy GCCA.

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

In a departure from its usual madcap programming, Goldsmiths Centre for Contemporary Art has put on a show of Nashville-born sculptor Virginia Overton. It’s quietly satisfying, but it’s not a lot of fun. Overton is a great exploiter and explorer of other artists’ works, and also materially responds to the spaces in which she shows. So here, we have literal offcuts from pieces by British luminary Sir Anthony Caro, and works reflecting the grimy mechanics of the Goldsmiths building, a former boilerhouse.

This means a lot of scrap metal: tubes, I-beams, chutes and jagged rusty sheets that might have once been almost anything. Despite all this heavy industry, Overton’s works are mostly domestically scaled, not fuck-off massive outdoor-type things. This gives them a quiet and insidious presence, like you might be able to use them as (really uncomfortable) furniture. One of them even incorporates that marble lump from the iconic Arco floor lamp, now supporting a ropey old bit of pipe that Overton picked up in the street. This kind of tension populates a lot of her pieces. For instance, the two mismatched halves of metal tubing seemingly attempting to form a whole in ‘Untitled (½ and ½)’.

You might be able to use them as (really uncomfortable) furniture

Oh yeah, that’s a thing. Overton is a follower of the ‘shall I?/shan’t I?’ school of nomenclature. Everything is ‘Untitled’, then given a title in brackets. Eg: ‘Untitled (Chime for Caro)’. That probably doesn’t bother you (if you even ever read the names of things anyway). It only really bothers me cos it suggests a kind of slightly po-faced bet-hedging in Overton’s work that I don’t really need right now. Who doesn’t want art to have cool titles?

There are a couple of standouts that more than make up for that niggle. I really liked the room full of huge swooping softwood planks that crash over you like a silent breaker, ‘Untitled (Arc)’, while upstairs there’s a fun piece made of chunks of steel covered in crappy mirror tiles and revolving on a turntable, as if disco was less Black and more blacksmith.

If you enjoy materials and their interplay, you could do a lot worse than spending some time with this show. Being more of a vapid-idiot person, I’m looking forward to GCCA getting back to the manic side of its personality.

Chris Waywell
Written by
Chris Waywell


Goldsmiths CCA
St James
New Cross
SE14 6AD

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