Thomas Dane Gallery: 09 Dec – 29 Jan 2012, Free, Photo from gallery website
The work comprises a highly visual and stylised investigation into the heterotopic world of artifice created by the camera apparatus. At first glances one can identify resemblances and traits akin to the Fluxus group and Viennese Action styles and for good reason. Morgan was active at the same time and collaborated with the Fluxus group. Anyone interested in video art should definitely see this work which felt evocative and captivating even today.
Self and exploration
Coupled with creating aesthetic images and emotive art work, subjectivity was a core tenet of Morgan’s ideation. When artists employ themselves as a site of exchange they at once embody the art and occupy the space of inter-subjectivity between themselves and the viewer. At first glances one may interpret some of Morgan’s work as self interested portraiture. However the multifaceted mode employed by Morgan betokens loftier ideals. Among the subject matter: androgeny gender, semantics and perceptual representaion. These are most highly evinced in the pieces, ‘Lash’ in which the artist wears oversize fake eyelashes making him appear highly feminised and ‘Wall Slap’ in which the artist films a disembodied hand hitting a wall.
Framing and treatment
In the gallery space there are three main areas designated for display. Room 2: In which were four video pieces mounted upon plinths with headphones available for listening; which featured Lash, Volcano, Smear and Shatter. The adjoining area (between room 1 and 2): in which were located some photographic pieces taken of different subjects directly mounted on the wall which may have been extracts from Morgans book of exercises; and Room 2: In which was a small scale installation of projected work in a tight configuration used to show Wall Slap, Paper Drop and Black Corner. Note on show within the exhibition were some of the oil drawings from 1993 which further echoed the themes prevalent within the video work.
Although the works are small and short they still remain very poignant and pack quite a punch which goes to show that bigger is not always better. The succinct appreciation of form, content and subject matter reach a good pitch in Tony Morgan’s work. There are many subtle nuances, visual metaphors and semantics to enjoy which are refreshing over thirty years later. The monochromatic palette offset by obvious stylistic treatment give the work a good but obvious charm.
The work has a strong aesthetic presence and appears highly constructed as opposed to random. This level of treatment and artifice could possibly have hindered any experimental potentialities however it imbues a sense of collective cohesion which is in itself rewarding. It would have been nicer to see more of the work in progress. Unresolved in this exhibition was the absence of discussion concerning the figure of the artist and why he was largely forgotten at the time of his death. It would have benefited the exhibition if these tropes were expounded.
A captivating collection of video, photographic and installation work by Tony Morgan which combines slick and stylised imagery to explore subjectivity.
written by: Colin Humphrey