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Ryan Gander

Heralded as the new black

29 January — 24 March 2008

This exhibition was Ryan Gander’s first since taking 2007 as a ‘year out’ in which to travel and develop new work. Arranged in collaboration with South London Gallery and Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, it included new installations, objects and film.

Gander is concerned particularly with art’s potential to stimulate dialogue, playing off immediate circumstances in order to make them seem simultaneously familiar and unfamiliar. It is an ambiguity that gives rise to an ‘uncanniness’ and creates uncertainty, encouraging our contemplation of a range of issues within the context of his work. This exhibition expanded the artist’s usual preoccupations – notions of origination, authorship and how meaning can change with time and location – to engage the viewer more as an active participant in artistic experience. In a recent interview he explained, “If you let the spectator discover something on their own terms it holds more significance than it being handed on a plate.”

A key new work, The sheet of paper on which I was about to draw, as it slipped from my table and fell to the floor (2008) is 100 identical glass spheres, each with a laser-etched image of a sheet of A4 paper inside. Scattered across the gallery floor, they are giantsized children’s marbles, collecting in corners and rolling against walls. These ‘crystal balls’ embody an unattainable future, the promise of an idea as yet unknown and undiscovered, epitomised by a blank white rectangle frozen in space.

A smart sense of humour underpins much of Gander’s work and for this exhibition he requested that gallery assistants are dressed in limited edition all-white Adidas tracksuits, instead of conventional black attire. This Consequence (2005) thus immediately defies expectations. On closer inspection it becomes clear that the pristine state of the tracksuits is disrupted by carefully embroidered splashes of red on both the jacket and trousers, a hint of some unknown accident or incident.

A fully illustrated catalogue, including installation photographs is available. Ryan Gander has also produced a limited edition print  You, the reader which is available to buy from Ikon Shop.

Heralded as the new black was kindly supported by the Henry Moore Foundation, Birmingham City University and MITES. Further generous support for Ryan Gander is provided by The Elephant Trust for artist’s fees and expenses.

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