Test Bed is a series of shows from Bloc Projects with the unifying theme of ‘providing artists with a publicly facing gallery space to experiment with new approaches, and techniques and to engage with audiences in new ways.’ Each artist is free to interpret that brief (or lack thereof) in order to experiment with the gallery spatially, and in terms of the platform it represents.
It’s first tenant is Lucy Vann, a multimedia artist based in Sheffield who works with video, sculpture, performance and installation. An RCA graduate, Vann’s practice is all about minutiae and observation.
She finds poignancy and often humour in the strange fragments of rituals, processes and repetitions which make up the organism of everyday life. In previous work she’s explored the rituals of wellbeing and beauty and demonstrated a keen ear for an absurdly mundane overheard or discovered phrase.
Back to Test Bed. There’s a complimentary dialogue between the curatorial concept – experimental, as yet undefined and restless – and the works exhibited within. Vann says the exhibition is above all about stagnation, but that doesn’t mean anything she has created is particularly static. She offers some entry points through which to engage with the pieces, in the form of ‘a glossary of sorts’:
It’s a multimedia show in the truest sense, covering off animal, vegetable and mineral in a restrained number of exhibits. There’s absolutely no excess – the themes manifested in their most precise forms.
Without giving away much about the pieces themselves (there’s a playful joy in discovering them), she says ‘I think all the works in the show have a degree of transience about them. Trying to balance between what’s natural and what is clinical’. Visually, there’s a contrast between the ‘shorthand-for-uninspiring’ artefacts of corporate spaces, and the living, decaying, soon to be grotesque vegetable matter.
True to the Test Bed ethos, the names of the works are yet to be decided. That’ll happen as the nature of the various processes begin to reveal themselves.
Whilst we might be stuck inside time or place with Lucy Vann’s work, in her Test Bed show there’s always something at play beneath the surface (or membrane). An undulation, an organic process or an aesthetic shift.
It’s about changing bodies and changing environments. So in the most literal sense – watch this space.
Lucy Vann: Test Bed #1, Bloc Projects, 29 September – 14 October 2017.
Lucy Holt is a copywriter, journalist and poet based in Sheffield.