Arts Review: Forms of Action

CCA, 27th Jan – 12th March

Forms of Action reminded me that I should really spend more time at the CCA. An exhibition with many different collaborating artists, it explores socially engaged art practices in a fascinating way. I was completely engrossed by the first room, where fables or folktales and their illustrations were waiting on the walls to be read and interacted with. The videos accompanying them were truly fascinating, the most thought-provoking an interview with a translator based in Marrakech who described translation as both a dialogue and a new creative process.

The tiny bookshelf filled with children’s books in the second room of the exhibit took me on a wee journey back in time. With a book still in my hand I started to notice the plants preserved in glass or plastic semi-spheres that adorned the opposite wall. Upon closer inspection, this spectacular piece turned out to be a collection of bits of nature frozen in time, bubbles of air still trapped in the art like a picture in 3D. Yet the defining feature of this room was without a doubt a series on Mexican community traditions, translated and illustrated with vibrant colours. Wandering through this juxtaposition of text and image encouraged reflection on the reasons behind the importance of particular events, ideas or beliefs to certain cultures as well as questioning how we live and what taboos affect our life.

The third and final room, containing a short film dealing with young teenage athletes suffering an injury, their expectations and coping mechanisms, was for me the most powerful part of the exhibit. The fact that it was filmed as a typical advertisement for sports gear or an Olympic Games trailer, the camera focussing not on the human as a whole but on the relevant limbs and muscles, delivered an important message about performance and expectations of excellence. The audience was barely confronted with the teenagers whose dreams of becoming an athlete are shattered, but shown instead shots of the parts of their body which would never again be able to “deliver”, in the eyes of a society obsessed with self-betterment and pushing one’s limits. This film was an acknowledgement of often unattainable standards and the toll they take on an individual.

Overall, while Forms of Action was an eclectic whole, it thrived on the variety of media, and feelings and messages conveyed by them.

[Isabelle Ribe]

Photo courtesy: Daniel Godínez Nivón, Assembly, 2010

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