Pitch White // Isabel Ramos and Edward Rowe // Back Lane West, Redruth
Here are two artists whom, on the outside, don’t seem as though they could exist in the same realm (let alone the same room). As part of the Back Lane West residency programme, Falmouth graduates Isabel (with a background in performance and participation) and Edward (with his preoccupation with digital space and colour fields) were tasked with responding to the once-commercial space and presenting the results after one month. With seemingly incongruous talents, it’s evident that the pair have quickly found shared points of interest in their practice. Responding to the space directly in terms of the monochromatic theme, Edward produced screens with text, neon lights and Perspex cases containing various shades of black and white whilst Isabel orchestrated her troupe of performance artists known as The Living Mark within (and without) the gallery walls. However, the collaboration was not just based on colour but rooted in a shared sense of humour. Nonsensical statements making jest of minimalist concerns appear on Edward’s screens (“Overtly Neutral”) whilst Isabel instructed her Living Marks to entice and confuse the audience with simple pranks (copying our movements and leading us to banal corners of the gallery). It’s not hard to see how the pair have played off one another, both are deeply entertained by the audience’s fascination with the white cube format of a gallery space and determined to ridicule it (albeit in a way that we enjoy). Whilst both practices are rooted in their own contexts of a century of art history (Isabel’s in performance artists such as Marina Abramovic and Mary Reid Kelley and Edward in minimalist heavyweights Carl Andre and Dan Flavin), both have turned their influences on the head to come together in what some may call harmony. This creative partnership transcends a shared sense of humour and intellectual discourse however, and there is very much a physicality in the relationship between both sets of work. The Living Marks respond directly to Edward’s sculptural forms, weaving around the Perspex and staring into the screens to perfectly illustrate their conductor’s intention; the physical and digital marks of Edward’s work have come alive. I think the success of such collaboration relies on the aspect of humour and interaction more than is sometimes thought – a much broader audience is reached (both those inside and outside the art school institutions). As we are confused, amused and finally engaged in the combination of sculptural and performance work, we begin to comprehend the underlying discourse which may otherwise have passed over us: the human bodies and Perspex boxes become teaching aids, showing us the beauty in Isabel and Edward’s monochrome world.