‘Gate-shut-panic’, the literal translation of Torschlusspanik, originates from a Medieval expression that describes the closing of the city gates at nightfall, and the anxiety leaden in the peasants who must be back within the protected confines of civility, else be vulnerable to the wild; feral animals, the cold, the vagrants.
The press release invokes an obsolete-feudalism to correlate with modern phenomena, noting the metaphorical equivalent to a mid-life crisis. What strikes is the transformation from the collective fear conditioned by the exposure to unregulated land, to an individual experience of panic, systemic of wider socio-economic conventionality; an existential revealing of an up-till-now numbness of the self.
So considering Torschlusspanik at VITRINE gallery, Charlie Godet Thomas’s installation posits the viewer as the victim of poor time-keeping, given the format of viewing the work being permitted only to the outside of the vitrine, and Bermondsey Square serving as proxy to the area where the audience - (looker, onlooker?) can observe the work. The square being mostly void of the feral, we can at least enjoy the time outside to view a group of new works spanning across a medium of objects, print and architectural structures, given that these ‘city-gates’ are made of glass.
In the previous works I’ve seen by Godet Thomas, there has been an intertextual friction between text and object, whether the text be present, had presence, or suggestive of something all together disparate in the titling of the work. In one work, I remember the distinguishable yellowiness emitted from a pack of cast rubber lemons as the plastic bag they sat within absorbed the light from their fluorescent pigment. Left on the end of a bench, the pedestrian setup was made weird by the title, Evil Knievel Died of Natural Causes. Yes he did. Is it an obituary one might find in the daily newspaper, a nod toward a bittersweet death, or catalyst for the ones about to go through their own torschlusspanik? The profundity of life made manifest in a bag of lemons.
At VITRINE, Godet Thomas’s exhibition operates in a similar manner; trivial and commonplace products of modern living are ontologically and culturally skewed, this time by an exhibition title rooted in an historical myth from the Middle Ages. Due to this dislocation in time and place, the group of different works are each an anachronism to their common signifier. Walking sticks populate the space, though lack their rigidity and supportive purpose, and take on a cartoonish quality. Though kept neutral and uniform in their design, each harbour their own exhausted presence, coiled up on the floor or suspended limply from the ‘architectural’ beams. ‘All Doled up with Nowhere to go’, the title of each walking stick is a darkly humorous reflection on regret; time is passing, and the physicality of the structures around you - friendships, relationships – are becoming more and more immaterial.