James Richards: Forthcoming

4 out of 5 stars
Commissioned by Chisenhale Gallery, London. James Richards, Not Blacking Out, Just Turning The Lights Off, 2011.

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Friendly warning! We're working hard to be accurate. But these are unusual times, so please check that events are still happening.

Filmmakers often talk of editing as the meat of their process. The nuance of relative meanings produced by infinitesimal alterations to image or sound is incredibly delicate and powerful, but in the case of films employing found footage, the potential touches on the infinite. One wonders how an artist like James Richards – who works with existing moving images collected from a plethora of sources, as well as his own, self-shot footage – decides where to start, what to leave out.

Considering how esoteric the final video might seem, the atmosphere of Richards’ two-screen installation ‘Not Blacking Out, Just Turning The Lights Off’ has a distinct sense of corporeality – of someone lumbered with a body that is curbed or whose memory outstrips its capacity. Fragmentary views, textured close-ups, ambiguous surfaces, colour-negative or low-resolution imagery all frustrate the desire for a vista, while the audio paces between abstraction, music and spoken word, with only a poem by Judith Grahn achieving completion.

The gallery is configured so that the audience must swivel in their seats to watch first one screen then the other. A pastel-coloured carpet and two lamps contribute to the aestheticised viewing scenario, drawing out the questions of taste posed by the video itself. The contribution of footage by filmmaker Steve Reinke is palpable in the video’s attention to surface, which Richards extends from skin to screen, to varnish on a painting, to menisci on water, and infuses with his own soft poetics of conjunction and disjunction. And it is this painterly consideration of material and texture that carries the work beyond a choreography of cultural memories towards the tangibly sensual.



You may also like