British artist Edward Thomasson presents an exhibition of new works in the South London Gallery’s first floor galleries following six months as the inaugural Nina Stewart Artist in Residence in the SLG’s Outset Artists’ Flat. The Residency is offered to a recent post-graduate from a UK art institution and is organised in partnership with SPACE.
The centrepiece of Thomasson’s show is a new video work, entitled Inside, accompanied by a series of drawings depicting scenes from workshops organised as part of the filmmaking process. The narrative brings together three scenarios which reflect ideas around the relationship between interior and exterior spaces, and the consequences of breaking through boundaries between the two.
Making references to the mind, body and buildings, Thomasson’s video is an extraordinary yet strangely plausible concoction of disparate scenes, presented in a style which draws on the grammar of British television. Shifting between prison and domestic drama, as well as footage of an acupuncturist applying needles to a patient’s back, the contrasting scenes in Inside are woven together through two central narrative threads: one focusing on a prisoner, the other on a couple who sing together as a man plays a guitar. Performed by a cast of professional and novice actors, the video doesn’t quite fit into any established genre. There is functionality to the way the actors perform, suggestive of Thomasson’s underlying interest in the use of performance as a strategy for negotiating everyday life.
During a series of workshop-based sessions, Thomasson invited the performers to take part in various exercises loosely based on team-building games used in the workplace to promote self-expression and unison. For one of the exercises, participants had 40 minutes to devise performances responding to newspaper articles about home-owners who had been arrested for murdering intruders, and the resulting improvisations directly shaped the development of the video.
These strategies are typical of Thomasson’s approach. His collaboration with actors, musicians and singers is at the heart of his exploration of the role of performance in everyday life. Two drawing exercises, which were undertaken by workshop participants at the beginning of the project, are also used as key elements in the video when five female prisoners take part in an art therapy session. One woman reveals her thoughts through the drawings she makes, while a voice describes the difficulties she experiences in the expression of these inner feelings. Having set the tone for an investigation of public versus private space, the following sequence of unexpected situations and stories is crafted to ensure that the central themes are reinforced rather than lost, and the infinite capacity for one idea to lead to another is brought to the fore.
Thomasson graduated from the Slade School of Fine Art last year and was awarded the inaugural Nina Stewart Artist's Residency which began in October 2011. The residency offers a recent graduate accommodation in the South London Gallery’s Outset Artists’ Flat, use of a nearby studio courtesy of SPACE and a solo exhibition in the SLG’s first floor galleries.
The Nina Stewart Artist's Residency with the South London Gallery and SPACE is funded by The Nina and Roger Stewart Charitable Trust, with additional support from Bloomberg.
Edward Thomasson in Conversation
Wed 14 March, 7pm, £5/£3 conc
Artist Edward Thomasson discusses his current exhibition and SLG residency.
Notes to Editors
The South London Gallery has an international reputation for its programme of contemporary art exhibitions and live art events, with integrated education projects for children, young people and adults. Exhibitions profile the work of established international figures such as Alfredo Jaar, Gabriel Kuri, Rivane Neuenschwander, Tatiana Trouvé and Superflex; as well as that by younger and mid-career British artists such as Ryan Gander, Eva Rothschild and George Shaw. Group shows bring together works by established and lesser known British and international artists. The gallery’s live art and film programme has included presentations by Charles Atlas, Rachel Gomme, Nathaniel Mellors, Gail Pickering and Gisele Vienne.
The South London Gallery’s programme of artist residencies launched in 2010, thanks to the completion of the Outset Artists' Flat. Located on the top floor of the SLG’s new Matsudaira Wing, designed by 6a architects, the flat provides inspiring accommodation for a programme of three annual residencies, interspersed with shorter projects involving artists and curators. The annual Outset Residency takes place in the spring and is offered to an international artist commissioned to make new work as part of the SLG’s exhibition programme. The Nina Stewart Artist’s Residency is offered to a recent graduate from a UK art school. This six-month residency, with studio provision courtesy of SPACE, culminates in an exhibition in the first floor galleries of the Matsudaira Wing. The third annual residency focuses on the SLG’s work with different sectors of the local community and involves partnerships with other organisations.
Edward Thomasson was born in 1985 in Staffordshire, United Kingdom. He lives and works in London. Collaborating with actors, dancers, singers and musicians, his work focuses on the systems and rituals of contemporary survival and their relationship to performing and performance. Edward Thomasson also collaborates with Lucy Beech on performance and video works. Thomasson completed his BA at Chelsea College of Art and Design, London, in 2007 and went on to gain an MA at Slade School of Fine Art, London (2009-2011). His exhibitions include: Find A Problem To Solve, Furini Arte Contemporanea, Rome, 2012; One Another’s Company, IMT Gallery, London, 2011; Drill and Touching, Tank.tv, London, 2011; New Contemporaries, The A Foundation, Liverpool, touring to ICA, London, 2010; Plain Sailing and Find a Problem to Solve, The Life Room, CHELSEA Space, London, 2010; and Self Protection is Not Magical, (with Lucy Beech) Schicksal Oder Vaseline?, The Showroom, Berlin, 2010. His collaborative performances with Lucy Beech include:Twist, IMT Gallery, London, 2011; 7 Year Itch, More Soup and Tart, Barbican Theatre, London, 2011; Human Resources, Platform One, Bloomsbury Theatre, London, 2011; Holding it Together, Night and Day, Modern Art Oxford, Oxford, 2010; The Cigarette Game, Testing Ground: Live, Zabludowicz Collection, London, 2010; On Face Work, I Was There, Stedefreund Berlin, 2010; Self Protection is not Magical, Making Mistakes, Paradise Row, London, 2009; Instructions for a Dance, Propeller Island 1, London, 2009.