nothing but flowers

the end of it all. 2011
with Jay Mosher
Joshua Baskin gallery
Glasgow


What is it that makes p big and q small? When we make a statement about the size of p, we are not just saying something about p, we are also saying something about p’s extrinsic properties, something about p’s relationship to the world around p. So what about when p is a small piece of art? The problem with small art is that it still has to be shown in big galleries and next to other people’s big art. Well not anymore.

Joshua Baskin Gallery has been brought into this world specifically to help all those poor artists who make small artworks - to finally give them the space they need and deserve. But this isn’t just a joke about small things being funny (which they of course are). Far from it. The size of the gallery is merely a comedic device, a visual one-liner aimed to tacitly disarm an audience into an initial layer of engagement. The gallery’s curators have been careful to select two artists who are –just like their works- sophisticated, confident and witty enough not have to always take the world around them too seriously.

For The End of it All Joshua Baskin has invited Thorgerdur Olafsdottir (who sometimes makes little gallery based art) and Jason Mosher (who generally makes big site-responsive installations in a natural environment). On the face of it they operate in very different ways and make very different looking things. Once installed within Joshua Baskin Gallery however, both the space and artworks start to act upon each other, simultaneously both allowing ‘new’ vantages onto their respective practices to become salient, and also initiating dialogue(s) between their works that simply would not be possible in any other gallery.

For The End of it All, Olafsdottir is showing three disarmingly subtle works that stand both naked and absurd in the space. There is a confrontational dryness to how bluntly they appear as themselves. Yet at the same time they also transcend the immediacy of their material presence, offering glimmering flashes of fantastical landscapes, exotic geological ejaculates, the enduring standing stones of ancient hands and a plethora of other naturalistic lumps and bumps. In spite of offering all these joyous and seductive narrative strands however, they never take an audience the whole way, acknowledging their own inability to compete or achieve the task which they seem to have just set upon attempting (and we want them to do so much) – the task of matching up to the monumentality of nature.

Mosher is known for creating large site-responsive sculptural interventions within a landscape. In scale and finish they appear like the fragments of some forgotten Étienne-Louis Boullée creation. For Joshua Baskin Gallery we see him taking a very different approach, working on an uncharacteristically small-scale and within the walls of the white cube. Irrespective of location or scale however, the mandate of his work at first seems simple: to re-focus the viewer’s attention upon the potency and monumentality of natural form(s). This is a trap. They are playing a different game. Through their high production value and impressive level of technological prowess, they willingly bring themselves into competition with that which they at first seemed to in awe of. And here –like Ólafsdóttir- they seem to (knowingly) acknowledge a willingness to fail in the task they just set out upon undertaking.

Both the artworks and the gallery itself take on a dual existence, offering two simultaneous and incompatible routes of interpretation. The artworks begin to assert a new contextually born fictitious status, appearing as some sort of sight of fantastical human significance; ceremonial, religious, contemplative and (sci-fi) symbolic, a location that’s purpose is both unclear and unsettling. And as for the pristine white cube of the gallery itself, well it also never ceases to be a crudely put together box with some little art objects in it. It is in this incompatibility that a self-effacing humour is spawned, allowing the gallery and the works within it to level themselves with an audience, taking humour sufficiently seriously to create an accessible and rigorous show, a show that demonstrates that size does matter when it comes to art and nature, and that this is no small thing.


Words by Simon Buckley