Coventry’s newest and very prominent art gallery has opened with a conceptual exhibition which makes a statement about how it plans to progress.
The Lanchester Gallery has moved from inside Coventry University’s Graham Sutherland building, which houses the School of Art and Design, to a space on the front of The Hub in Jordan Well. In such an obvious position the pressure was on, and before this first exhibition, ÉVASION, opened there had been a week of near all-night work to get everything ready.
ÉVASION takes as its theme the idea of the luxury lifestyle idea sold to women through the glossy, glamorous magazine, and the relationship with fashion and money.
t’s not an entirely new idea, and one of the works is a 25-minute video by Martha Rosler from 1982 reading Vogue in a live performance, deconstructing its message, advertising and the fashion industry’s use of sweatshops. It’s the best piece, along with Contaminator, a three-minute film by Josephine Meckseper of the preparations being done for a photoshoot of handbags – and the number of people involved and what’s going on is quite staggering.
A glossy magazine, Vuoto, has been produced for the exhibition and a glass desk has been propped on two piles of them, with a performance piece taking place there for part of each day, featuring an actress performing as the worst type of gallery assistant, interested only in the rich customers.
Nicole Wermers’s sculpture Suite 2 trails across the gallery floor, Milly Thompson has created a series of Romance Posters, large boards with colourful stripes and words, and Alison Jones has added some paintings laying women bare – or in one case with a gynaceological cross section – and with titles which sound like they’ve come from women’s magazines.
This exhibition launches the first Arts Council England-supported Lanchester Gallery Projects (LGP), which is a programme of exhibitions and other activities looking to promote the development of research in contemporary arts practice. This exhibition stands out as a university curatorial project, but future shows in the Lanchester Gallery include a touring exhibition by the Jerwood Drawing Prize, and student shows, so it will be interesting to see how this combination of LGP activities and other exhibitions pans out.
* There will be an ÉVASION panel discussion from 1-5.30pm on Saturday, February 18, featuring some leading figures in the UK art world looking at issues raised in the exhibition. More information is available on http://lanchestergalleryprojects.org.uk/ and attendance is free but places must be booked by emailing email@example.com