Sunday, 30 January 2011

Back to Meantime

15 months ago, I reported on a previous visit to Cheltenham's experimental visual art centre, Meantime. This weekend's "show" is if anything more perplexing than the last. In her residency, Felicity Hammond has put together "Constructed Reality: The Remnants of Ephemeral Art". In it, she claims to be responding "to the exploration of what it means to archive," and asks: "Do we lose even more authenticity through secondary representation?"

Meantime is on two floors. What you see in the ground floor is a display of architectural plans in two dimensions; and a short video depicting something going on down the steps in the basement area of the building - or rather the next door building, formerly the printers I used to go to, Hayman's. Upstairs, there is another video projected on the end wall of the gallery, with a third shown on an adjacent TV screen. Both these include images of the artist, doing things.

I only found one of the three videos of any aesthetic interest: the camera had been set up at night in the illuminated upstairs gallery, facing the full-length doors seen on the right of my photograph of the outside - the room had presumably been used as a storage loft originally. Felicity, dressed in black and I imagine wearing a black hood, then opened the doors slowly, so all you could see of her was her hands moving.

Her residency essay concludes, "The archive may echo the original performance in its content, but takes on a new reality and validity as being read as a part of our external, present reality." I ask, what is the use of such experiments if they do not result in an evident display of virtuosity?

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