Victor Sloan & Glenn Patterson: Luxus, 25 Jan – 24 Mar 2007
Luxus is Visual and Verbal Collaboration by Victor Sloan and Glenn Patterson. It is the first exhibition & book in a two-part series of new work entitled ‘Interrogating Contested Spaces’ involving the collaboration of major Northern Irish visual and verbal artists. The aim is create dialogue and inform discourse between rural and urban disputed places, between creator and participant/viewer, between the urban regenerator and the general public and finally between the visual and verbal interpretations or creations.
While primarily looking at Berlin, and tangentially Portadown, the first project ‘Luxus’, by Victor Sloan and Glenn Patterson, engages with the notion of The City in urban renewal. These urban spaces share notions of ‘locality’ in relation to common post-conflict spaces. Issues regarding territory and power structures pervade our psyche and the book/exhibition project aims to verbalise and visualise this change in social process and transition. Taking Berlin’s Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood as the background the artists examine the process of what is luxus (luxury).
For this project internationally known photographer Sloan and acclaimed Northern Irish writer Patterson were commissioned to create new images and text, which become the visual and verbal manifestations of this interrogation. The images are primarily from the Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood, most of which is being turned into new luxury apartments. Located in this area is a strange little bar called ‘Luxus’, a rundown establishment that emits many sentiments but none of them reflect luxury.
In this new work, digital manipulation supersedes the physical mark making of Sloan’s earlier artworks. Instead of the intentional self-made scratches, marks and blemishes for which Sloan is so well known, these new images contain more discreet and subtle changes that would only become obvious to the a viewer who has seen the original photograph. Additionally, the images are blown up to a large scale for the exhibition, producing noise and grain on the surface. The end result lends itself to Sloan’s well-known style, but this time the marks are unintentional and are created digitally rather than by hand. There is an immediacy and spontaneity that capture an impression and feeling of a single moment in a certain time and place. Sloan’s approach to subject matter has not necessarily changed but the process has moved from a physical to digital landscape with work that still very much harnesses the haunted and anxious moods of the artist’s own visual landscape. Sloan has also produced a video piece that can be placed within the context of the redevelopment East Berlin and how specific urban spaces remain authentic and original (or not) with within the contemporary urban development.
For this project Patterson’s observant writing style complements the exhibition’s artwork and concept. Patterson is known for his critical analysis of social interaction within different communities and his poignant and witty commentaries. The text looks at the city of Berlin, the Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood, the Luxus bar and the people that frequent it. Like a social voyeur Patterson offers the reader an offbeat tour along a less travelled path through one of Europe’s most engaging and remarkable cities, observing the remnants of the DDR, The Second World War and the fascinating characters that exist within this ‘altered state’.