The Sunday Painter, Peckham recently made the switch to commercial having operated the space as an artist led project for the past four years. Still integral to their programming is the support for young and emerging artists and curators. I’m interested to see how the new refurb to accompany this transition affects the space, but upon arriving at Rob Chavasse’s Earth Wire I realise now’s not the time, as the majority of the natural light has been blacked out to enhance what is a predominantly video-based exhibition.
Before entering the darkened room, you’re greeted by a pair of wall-mounted fans, one pumping hot air, the other cool, dripping into a bucket beneath. Standing between the opposite air currents is a pretty horrible sensation; an artificial rush of blood, combined with a fever, simulated. But from a distance, the simplicity of the intervention - in this case using household appliances in an irrational arrangement, to create a kind of magic, a deft touch -resonates with the ideas recurrent in the show; a sublime semblance of banalities, made comic and melancholic, leaving you dangling – where were those fleeting moments buried?
Earth Wire, a 15 min video projection and central focus to the exhibition, opens with a close observation of a cheap, coin operated machine producing a cup of instant coffee, continuing the references to hot and cold proximities (the coffee and milk) and commonplace electrical goods. Following images of a globe spinning unnecessarily fast, and a pair of potted plants perpetually rotating within the vitrines of a revolving door create a kind of empathetic relationship with one another and toward the artifice of these generic environments, revealing an unexpected alchemy in their ability to attain a spirit of the underdog; the ordinary objects appearing to exceed beyond function and consequently enchant. The work is never self-effacing however, I never had the impression Chavasse is attempting to draw a focus or have the viewer assume an empathetic relationship toward himself.