A 40K budget, the run of 176 Prince of Wales Road and the Zabludowicz Collection is a golden ticket for any young curator. Pavel S Pys, winner of their its curatorial open has not let the enormity of the space or the opportunity faze him, judging by this nicely restrained, if a little over-contextualised, selection of works from the past 15 years: from Sherry Levine to Michael Dean.
Given the debutante ball aspect of any competition exhibition, one can understand Pys’s focus on framing his curatorial assertion: that art works are sensitive to the malleable nature of lived experience in ways other modes of re-presenting it are not. And this strong group of practitioners, left to their own devices, generally appear to support the idea in critically interesting ways -- without the need of Benjamin, Proust, Flaubert and others waving from the press text margins.
Inside the exhibition, one soon gets over the issue of this as proof – of a pudding picked for its recipe. Deimantas Narkevicius’s film of personal and archival footage of Vilnius, aptly describes the visitor/witness perspective as that caught between many versions of the past and present. Similarly, Omar Fast’s four-channel, multi-perspective video reconstruction of a story offers a compelling investigation into the many factors influencing the narrative experience.
Pys’s less-is-more approach to the inherent theatricality of the site is mostly spot on, certainly his decision to make an irreverent, contemporary sculpture court (featuring Edward Lipski and Thomas Houseago) of the back room is inspired. Carol Bove’s slight shrine-like set of 1970s offerings in the main hall, however, suffers as a result of the retro-desirability of the site and surrounding works, such as Goshka Macuga’s inkjet cover-image series of RB Kitaj’s favourite books, where one’s perceived knowledge of the weight of each publication essentially provides the third dimension.