Preview Date: Thursday 25 October 6 - 8pm
Exhibition Dates: 26 October 2012 - 12 January 2013
Artists: Bruce Nauman, VALIE EXPORT, Gordon Matta-Clark, Stuart Brisley, Gilbert & George, David Shrigley, Phil Collins, Ryan Gander, Joao Onofre, Murray Ballard, Martin Kellett, Darren Cullen, Sara Punshon, Rafael Rozendaal, Nicholas Keogh, Clarita Lulic, Marjolaine Ryley, Pablo Wendel, Edwin Li, Gaetano Pesce, Teal Griffin.
"The universe is a system of which the individual members may relax their anxieties occasionally, and moral holidays in order... I fully believe in the legitimacy of taking moral holidays." William James
"Serious, sophisticated immoralism can be enormously valuable, but is not a single position at all, much less a solid creed [nor] a negative counterpart to morality... It is a range of critical enquiry. It consists of a set of widely varied criticisms of existing moralities". Mary Midgley
'Moral Holiday' presents the work of two generations of artists who have created works largely in lens-based media from still photographs to film or video. All stage what might be called 'thought experiments' that query the existing moral order, and dramatise ethical quandaries by inverting social norms or expectations. The exhibition brings together seminal works by radical artists who came to prominence in the late 1960s and early 1970s, alongside works by younger artists from Amsterdam, Belfast, Lisbon, Glasgow and London. The show includes the UK premieres of works by five of the artists.
The works by an older generation include Bruce Nauman's 'Revolving Upside Down', 1969, in which the artist turns the world on its end, so that just as in late medieval images of the 'world turned upside down' during carnival time, everything is topsy-turvy, and the order of things is comically inverted. Alongside is Gordon Matta-Clark's 'Splitting' of 1974, in which the artist made massive incisions into a disused house in New York, almost as though it were a stone fresh from a quarry ready for carving. Matta-Clark's work is often viewed as being a continuation of minimalism, but it might more readily be seen as combining the radical politics and ethics of Surrealism with urban architecture. By using abandoned buildings as his medium, and a chainsaw as his principal tool, Matta-Clark acted as the antithesis of a property developer, joyfully embracing destruction rather than gentrification. We might see his graceful incisions into seemingly permanent, stable structures as metaphorical actions - as precision strikes upon a moral order.
New works in the exhibition include Murray Ballard's photographic series 'The Prospect of Immortality', 2006-12. The series looks at the preparations for a new type of journey into the unknown: into time rather than space. Ballard's work has come out a six-year long investigation into 'cryonics': the process where we - either our whole body or simply our head - are frozen after our death at -196°c, up until technology allows us to be brought back to life. Indeed many of the artists explore our oldest fears and fantasies in their newest forms, examining our attitudes to sex and death; to our need for and equal horror of others; and the universal need to escape ourselves, achieved through travelling, or else travelling inside our own minds by using consciousness-altering stimulants.