The conceptual negotiation of space

Story by Jack Foley

A NEW exhibition at the Danielle Arnaud contemporary art gallery in London, entitled Species of Spaces, brings together five artists whose work is concerned with a visual and conceptual negotiation of space.

The artists in question are French visionary Arnaud Desjardin; Oxford-educated James Ireland (whose work is pictured above); lecturer Jacqueline Pennell; Toronto-based Paulette Phillips; and Austrian-born Claudia Pilsl. The subsequent exhibition, which runs until August 4, can only be described as a must for any fans of contemporary photography.

About the artists...

l Arnaud Desjardin’s installations often suggest a shift in perception of location. His large realistic standing stone in the garden is visible from inside the gallery but, when accessed, exposes the machination of an artificially constructed presence: the standing stone is a prop used in the making of a picture. For the exhibition Arnaud Dejardin was supported by Chelsea College of Art and Design.

Born in France, Desjardin lives and works in London and has recently exhibited at Mellow Birds (solo) and Platform Gallery, London; East International, Norwich and Sabine Wachters Fine Arts, Brussels. He studied in France and Canada and has just completed an MA in Visual Culture at the Middlesex University.

l James Ireland (whose work in progress is pictured above) explores the conventions and contexts that define an idealised space, the desires behind an image of a place far away. James uses found images and mass-produced objects to create an illusion that is convincing dependent on specific conditions, an illusion that is delicate and precarious.

Ireland studied at the Ruskin School of Fine Art, Oxford and his recent exhibitions include: How and Why (solo), Manchester; Double Take, Aspex Gallery, Portsmouth; All of my Heart, Arte E Personae, Florence; A Square of Ground, Jerwood Gallery, London; Perspective 2000, Ormeau Baths Gallery, Belfast; New Contemporaries 2000.

l Jacqueline Pennell playfully distorts and exposes previously concealed areas. Perfect Day refers to a space beyond the confines of the room. Using objects, wall drawing and photography Jacqueline constructs a notion of a space that reflects a hidden landscape of memories, desires and hopes.

Pennell is currently showing with Robert Preece Projects at the Museum van Nagsael, Rotterdam and CCNOA, Brussels. She has recently exhibited at Smart Project Space in Amsterdam and The Economist Plaza in London. She will be exhibiting at The Royal West of England Academy, Bristol in July 2003. She is a lecturer in Fine Art at Goldsmiths College, University of London.

l Paulette Phillips presents Ecstasy, a video that is part of a series of intimate small-scale video installations entitled The Secret Life of Criminals. Ecstasy consists of two channels of video – one is a projection of a woman as she walks through an industrial landscape on the edge of the city. The woman walks through the snowy fields, becomes hot, takes off her clothes and lies in the snow, luxuriating in the sensation.

The other monitor depicts evidence of the woman’s actions: her abandoned clothes and her naked body lying still through a blizzard. For this exhibition Paulette Phillips was supported by the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts.

Based in Toronto, Phillips's films and videos have been shown around the world including: The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Tate Liverpool; The National Gallery, Ottawa; The Sao Paulo Film Festival; The Australian Video Festival; The Spiral Gallery, Tokyo and the Humbolt Film and Video Festival, California. She is an Associate Professor of Integrated Media at the Ontario College of Art and Design.

l Since 1994 Claudia Pilsl has undertaken a serial investigation of contemporary art museums. By stripping away their contents, she brings to view the unknown structures which lie behind the surface of presentation. For this exhibition, she is showing work based on Tate Modern.

An Austrian-born artist who presently lives in Bristol, Claudia has mainly shown in Germany and Austria and in 2001 was a research fellow at the Photographic Department at the Southampton Institute. She has just won a major bursary for Fine Art Photography awarded by the Republic of Austria.

The exhibition was conceived by Jacqueline Pennell and Danielle Arnaud. The title originates from Espèces d’espaces (Species of spaces) by Georges Perec, Editions Galilée 1974/2000.

During the exhibition a catalogue will be published with a text by Peg Rawes

The Danielle Arnaud contemporary art gallery, 123 Kennington Road London SE11 6SF. Opening times: Friday, Saturday & Sunday, from 2pm to 6pm (other times by appointment). Tel: 020 7735 8292.
Nearest Tube: 10 min walk from Waterloo - nearest tube Lambeth North