Monday, 27 November 2017

Lexis over Land:Towards a Feminist Geography, at Tremenheere, Penzance

'Lexis over Land:Towards a Feminist Geography'.

 Tremenheere Gallery, Penzance, 
19Nov to 31Dec 2017

Curated by Nina Royle with work by her plus Jasmine Garrett, Lucy Stein, Daisy Rickmansworth, Miriam Austin, Lotte Scott, Laura Wormell, Libita Clayton, and Annabel Lainchbury.

The title of the exhibition, using an unfamiliar word which means 'the vocabulary of a language', the understated grey catalogue, the fact that prices are only available if you enquire at the desk, numbers next to works rather than names of who made them,  all points to a serious intent. 
Having spoken briefly to the curator I gather the artists are all friends and I wonder if they were all at college together. There isn't any information of a curriculum vitae nature.

The 'feminist geography'  is of the romantic essentialist variety, seeing a spiritual or mystical something that women have and tying this in with reference to their bodies, pomegranates photographed held up in front of naked breasts, hands covered with earth, recalling  Ana Mendieta.

Unfortunately to my mind references are left to the cognoscenti to notice rather than being frankly  acknowledged. There are works supported on gardening gloves like Chris Offili's lumps of elephant dung,

and chunks  of charred wood in a row like Richard Long.

There is work made in situ on the floor using local materials, work unframed  held up with masking tape, latex, plants incorporated in installation and also painting and photography.

It's not easy to work out who did what. 

There's a saw outside, distressingly left out in the rain to rust. The man invigilating feels he can't make a decision to move it when it's mentioned to him.

I leave with my brain a little bit refreshed, looking about me at the rain on a plant, spotting an earth work thrown up by work on the railway opposite Sainsburys that I think is in the two large photos, St.Michael's Mount in the background, and taking some photos myself.

This is despite a bit of disappointment. No doubt these young artists are exploring what is new to them but rather old to me. They've done very well to secure an excellent gallery space and made a show that is refreshingly uncommercial. 
I resist the romantic female essentialism, I want something grittier, more of today, and maybe next time they show they will have developed more personal and more surprising things.

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