Jordan Hutchings, Body of Work, GTG, Belfast, 4-25 June 2015

Curated by the artist Mary Morgan, the exhibition  as a whole induced  an aesthetic experience by the chosen rhythmical display.  I read a wall like  a sheet music – imagined intonating it in a- minor after repeating five times the same note first.  Lodovico Einaudi  – could have composed it.

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At the end of the public space – a derivation from iconostas. Five images, five fingers on one hand, five senses, five continents… a chance like similarities.

The battery of the five medium size images on the left from  the door had their superiority undermined twice: Morgan selected anti-heroic images, laced by strangeness of what happens to  the performer’s head:  a red suitcase, green branches, umbrellas, various garments  increase the comic, theatrical character  of the adopted persona. The definition of the action  by a frame is both sufficient and  insufficient.  Sufficient to evoke the concept and its tonality,  insufficient to capture the meaning forged by the duration, action, move, changes, negotiation of space, rhythm, responsiveness to others or other objects. The display made the single shots from different performances in different places  into a kind of polyptych, whose rich history could still teach contemporary art about correlations and our feeble power to discover the power that binds  non related events together.  Morgan risks variations of conjunctions in hope that we shall move “beyond the evidence of memory and senses.” (David Hume, 18th C) .

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From left: Julie Fiala, 2011, Belfast; Karine Talec, 2014 Ballycastle;James King 2012 Londonderry; Jennifer Hanley, 2014, Belfast; Alastair MacLennan, 2014, Belfast;

 

Morgan made improbable coincidences valid because they share a common cause – i.e. performance art.  The five images do not deliver all the data required   for unequivocal answer who is it, what does it mean, and what is the history behind it.  Only that they are views taken by Jordan Hutchings – without any other consciously formulated intention. Yet, in Morgan’s display, their visual force (of the images, not of the whole performances) take over.  Almost in agreement with Umberto Eco:

I would define the poetic effect as the capacity that a text displays for continuing to generate different readings, without ever being completely consumed.

Read image where he has text.

It is the photographer’s decision that uproots an image from  its birthplace  – as would a fleeting attention of a passerby.  Jordan Hutchings is superbly attentive observer of group performances –  labouring  not under a necessary illusion that performance art can be documented.  He seems to lightly, nonchalantly, catch some into his camera.  I vouch for him – he is good.   I have worked with him  in relation to some of my older essays . Most admirably he avoids pretense and lies – so easily forged by digital manipulations.  He does not avoid fatigue from sameness of some performances that fail to offer generous number of “target images” (my term).  The five images above are strong “target images” – for ability to stand both for a performer’s intention and for their independence from it, ie outside the flow of the action. Morgan chose carefully – from almost accidental shots – those that appear carefully composed.

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From left: Claudia Kappenberg, Belfast, UU, 2013; Group action, Belfast, 2014; Kurt Johannessen and Pavana Reid, Londonderry, 2012; fergus byrne and Sandra Johnston, Helens Bay, 2012

In mathematics you can map one into many – one into one, many into one, and many into many.

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From left: Olivia Hassett and Jennifer Hanley, Belfast, UU, 2013; Keike Twisselmann and jennifer Henley, Helen’s Bay, 2014; Group action, Belfast 2014 (Christoff Gillen)

 

What is needed  to do any of these mappings  is to have  related data lines. This exhibition makes use  of all. Each image is one of many  absent views of the performing person.  It cannot exactly repeat any other, thus holding on to its aura of originality.  Each image also contains similarities to the ones before and after it was taken. There is a causal link, perhaps deformed by a sudden thought to deny the effect. That we shall not know.

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Kurt Johannessen and Pavana Reid, Londonderry, 2012

To map many into many is beyond the range of this lens based practice.  A moving image is more appropriate.

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From the left: Felipe Faundec Fuentes, 2010; Caroline Pugh and Caroline McCusker, 2012; Sandra Corrigan Breathnach – group acrion, Lisburn, 2014; Pavana Reid, Belfast, 2013; ClaraMcKeown, Belfast 2013; Laura Graham. Breen Wood, Antrim, 2013

The above simply supports the doubt that a performance may be, can be  documented by any number of target images.  The still image  undermines the lens’s capacity to document a performance,the  durational performance in particular.  All we have are approximation to fragments of viewing experience. Jordan Hutchings often makes these fragments worthwhile. Sometimes, he told me, it happens by chance. He does not know what will happen, when it will happen, and what will be the best viewing point.  He is like a hunter gatherer – using his senses to observe, recognise and respond.  It is his  visual sensitivity that selects what he responds to. He is a painter,  after all.

 

 

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Left: Felipe Faundec Fuentes, Belfast, PS2, 2010; right: Caroline Pugh, Caroline McCusker, Belfast, Satis House, 2012

Hutchings is quoted on the gallery handout:

I won’t be the one to tell you what performance is. I can only tell you what I do. I take pictures of people doing things.

It matters that he does not claim to document performances.  Even if, for the past six years he followed to performance group Bbeyond  everywhere they went for their regular  Performance Monthly and more.   Hutchings is an artist in his own right, a quality Mary Morgan included in her curatorial concept. The whole exhibition exuded dionysiac intoxication with framing the real. With breaking  one part off the whole and resurrect it  as a new whole. Morgan has not shied away from humorous coincidences, e.g.  two bottles of milk echoing two blue stilettos, in images taken two years apart.

The display reminds me of W. Kandinsky comparing a peasant’s room to a painting.  I felt like walking into a painting .

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Laura Graham, Breen Wood, Antrim, 2013;

The black frame uncannily resonates with a memory of a TV screen – Hutchings made the light translucent in a nod to the verism.

As a punctum of the whole display, on the way out, Morgan placed the largest image.

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Keike Twisselmann, Helen’s Bay, 2014

 

Like a coda in music  – this is the end. Do not trespass.

 

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The images courtesy Jordan Hutchings.

Project developed by BIFPA 15 and funded by Cultural Development at University of Ulster.  Special thanks to Brian Connolly to enable this exhibition to happen.

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