Venue: The Odeon Site
24 Grafton Way (off Tottenham Court Road)
London WC1E 6DB
Exhibition Duration: 12 September – 3 November 2013 11am – 6 pm, Tuesday – Sunday
Art Review by Melissa Willard
DIG is an exhibition of Daniel Silver’s site specific sculptures in an abandoned building which used to be an Odeon cinema. It takes place in what feels like a construction site, where perhaps the construction work has had to be halted due to the finds made up of Silver’s sculpture pieces. The exhibition takes place on 2 levels, both covered but with the sides open to the elements. The derelict building is surrounded by overgrown vegetation, adding to the atmosphere of neglect. The metal reinforcements in the building are exposed. Temporary wooden walkways and a metal staircase take you around the site (although hard hats weren’t required). The whole exhibition is beneath street level but you can catch glimpses of everyday London above with its red-brick buildings and people going about their business, another world just a few steps away. At entrance level, there are a series of objects on plain wooden tables that look like they may be carpentry tables. One at least had “MacAlpine” stamped on the side.
The first table contained sculptures the shape and size of babies, caked in dried mud. On the next table were fragments of a classical Greek statue, in fact many copies of the same statue. Were these mass produced? The table with fragments of what appears to be an Asian God/Goddess were also made up of duplicated statues. In a separate section at the entrance level were standing statues on the floor. These were also multiples of the same design and bore evidence of modern manufacture in that there was a seam running down the sides as can sometimes be seen on plastic toys. They were grouped together with their counterparts, forming boundaries between the pieces with different “identities”. Some of the designs were set out in straight rows as if they were on a production line. The floor pieces as a whole resembled garden gnomes on sale at a garden centre, cheap products on display.
The lower floor was darker and more atmospheric. The setting is a disused underground car park with the floor muddy and flooded. Here we find a series of bearded old men’s heads on plinths. We cannot see their faces clearly but they look like wise men, men of influence and authority, now reduced to sitting in a flooded underground car park, facing a blank concrete wall. Some of the faces were very distorted and one had such a large hole in his cheek that he looked more alien than man. Off to one side were a couple of sculptures not on plinths but in a standing prayer position, one of which looks like a woman. On the other side there was a sculpture made up of round balls, with a beard, on a sunlounger. Is there supposed to be a person underneath all these lumps? Nearby was another sculpture which was smooth unlike the rest, with a fearful expression on its face. In a real archeological dig these pieces would have been labeled, but perhaps the lack of labeling was deliberate so that we could read what we wanted to in them. The absence of information or explanation meant that these “finds” maintained their mystery. All that remains is for us to “dig” within ourselves for their story and meaning.