In her second Berlin solo-show a UK-based artists Annabelle Craven-Jones sets to explore the intricate, puzzling, and not at all unambiguous relations between ourselves, our image in a digital and analogue world, and self-realisation.
Annabelle is one of those artists who are sometimes described as “secret” artists – there is little publicity around her name, but there is a fine-tuned and thought-through work that she produces, as with her current installation – “Schematic for Neurotic Structures (Triangulation), – where a viewer is immediately put into a specific context. This context is of the “therapy culture” – a society which aimed at bettering and perfecting an individual; a culture, where the core identity is well hidden either behind a computer monitor or a thick layer of make-up. The artist questions identity, or a self-portrait, in the context of a constant fluxus of the integrity and identity.
The exhibition consists of four pieces: a scheme applied on the floor of the gallery – “Schema”, a live part of the installation – “Live”, a recorded video of previous “Live” sessions with quotes – “Thought”, and a self-portrait on a large piece of drawing paper –“Wound”.
The first piece is a triangle scheme with the three main elements, which expands studio’s space by being reflected on the walls and windows. A triangle provides a special dynamic for this work, as being a cornerstone for psychoanalytical theories of Jung and Freud, it is well-adopted in a modern culture to represent a complete theory. A graduate from an Art Psychotherapy programme, Annabelle introduces an element of therapy theory and self-help techniques to the exhibition.
The second piece – “Live”, is a structure of three mirrors attached to each other, with both inside and outside reflecting the reality. Inside the mirror frame there is a camera that is connected to her studio in England, where from she makes a short “live experiments”. In a mirror we are presented as one solid and complete analogue image, however, being digitized, we are sliced down to a myriad of digital pieces – bits of information, and we are ready to be shipped to the other side of the screen. Visitors are welcome to explore this contact, augmenting their own personality with their actions every Thursday at 5 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m.
The TV at the other side of the triangle scheme transmits the records of the camera of previous sessions – they are edited and merged with the self-helping mantras and lyrics in English and German. Just as the sound is set to calm you, the image brings inconsistencies, disturbances and unpredictable elements. The video is always changing, making a viewer to believe that his digital portrait, which was made some weeks ago, has also changed. This deliberate incongruity is a cause of anxiety and neurosis.
The fourth element of the exhibition is a contour of Annabelle’s body on a large piece of a drawing-paper – her “self-portrait”. Being neither a photo-shot or deliberate portrait, but a body outline, it symbolises both her presence and absence at the place. Paper is tinged by a special substance that is used to produce make-up. The allusion one could read from this piece is modern dissatisfaction with the self, and a constant attempt to empty oneself only to stuff it with brand new meanings, and then carefully paint over so that the new portrait would be impeccable.
The artist, however, is not critical of either of issues she questions; she takes a position of an active observer and experimentalist. The role of the observer is doubtful sometimes: one of the visitors put a smartphone with a camera recording what is being recorded via live camera. Is it another, digital-era-fit version of On the Observing of the Observer of the Observers?*
The full video screening and artist talk will take place at Cruise&Callas at 7 p.m. on January, 7.
* Friedrich Dürrenmatt. Der Auftrag oder Vom Beobachten des Beobachters der Beobachter (1986)