Follow Us on Twitter

David Askevold at Camden Arts Centre

Exhibition preview

Camden Arts Centre is presenting David Askevold: The Disorientation Scientist, the Canadian artist’s first UK solo exhibition – from July 22 to September 25, 2011.

From the end of the 1960s to his death in 2008, Askevold was a pioneer in experimental video, sound, photography and text and an influential teacher at some of America’s most celebrated art schools, notably CalArts, Valencia, CA and Nova Scotia College of Art & Design, Halifax, NS.

This survey of his work brings together seminal pieces from the 1970s, his most important installations, with documentation of later performances and collaborative works he made with artists Mike Kelly and Tony Oursler.

Mainly working with photographs which were often accompanied by text, Askevold challenged the accepted understanding of Conceptual Art’s photo/text work by producing pieces which were ambiguous and intricate, with a haunting, poetic quality, calling together aspects of the occult and the grotesque. These celebrated pictures from the mid-1970s are full of multiple exposures, reflections, burns, and blurs.

Many of the works evoke the spirits of past figures as well as particular places in North America and Canada. One series of works draws on the astrological ideas of Johannes Kepler while another reveals the opposing personalities of two country and western singers Hank Williams and Hank Marvin.

Oscillating between Lovecraft and Kenneth Anger, the experimental and the pop, Western film and symbolism, science and Romanticism, the works he produced post 1970 compromise the objectivity of language – words, images, sounds – through their complex layering.

Videos, music, sounds and surreal imagery collide in the exhibition, pervading the galleries with an ethereal atmosphere. Askevold had sensitivity towards the supernatural, the unexplained and the barely visible. Drawn to the world of arcane knowledge, he was interested in the pseudo sciences, such as pop psychology and the occult and explored trance, hypnosis and altered consciousness within his work.

His collaborations with both Mike Kelly and Tony Oursler share this sensibility and both contain diverse imagery from a number of different sources.

Born in Montana in 1940, Askevold moved to Halifax, Canada in the early seventies to teach at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. Here he developed and led the innovative Projects Class which has played a significant role in the history of Conceptual Art. His influence extended into California where he worked at Cal Arts meeting Mike Kelly and Tony Oursler when they were still students.

Curated by Anne Pontegnie, the exhibition is organised in collaboration with Le Consortium, Dijon.

Admission: Free.

Times: Tuesday – Sunday 10am – 6pm, Wednesdays late 10am – 9pm, closed Mondays and Bank Holidays.

Camden Arts Centre, Arkwright Road, London, NW3 6DG

Tel: +44 (0)20 7472 5500

Fax: +44 (0)20 7472 5501