Friday, 9 July 2010

The Surreal House at the Barbican

This is the only photo we got (of Rachel Whiteread's Black Bath) before we were told off! Which doesn't normally stop us. But this time we thought it would be nice to not see an exhibition through a tiny lcd screen for a change. The Surreal House is quite an ambitious project we thought, bringing together various artists and filmmakers of the last 80 or so years and twinning or teaming them if you like with architects and architectural concepts in such groupings as Mad Love, Femme Maison, and Theatre of The Domestic. Each of these occupies its own space, and this was one of our favourite aspects of the show - the way the organisers have divided up the Barbican Gallery space into odd shaped rooms whose geometry is actually quite disorienting - presumably to drive home the overall message of the show. Our favourite bits included Jan Svankmajer's films (including the amazing Jabberwocky) in the Haunted House area, Rachel Kneebone's tortured and sensual ceramics in the Mad Love area, Rene Burri's photos of the Le Corbusier's ruined Villa Savoye in the Divine Concrete area, the looped footage of a burning house from Andrei Tarkovsky's The Mirror, and Paul Thek's tower of Babel log cabin. Overall we really liked the show, which, rather than churning out the usual suspects of the Surrealist movement, instead revealed the surreal aspects of others such as Louise Bourgeois, Sarah Lucas, and Jean-Lu Godard, and for me at least, breathing new life into what can sometimes seem like a bit of a cliche. Well done.

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