6 October to 3 December 2017
Andromedan Sad Girl is the first major collaborative exhibition by artists Florence Peake and Tai Shani. Drawing on their research into structures of feminism, their immersive installation is an imagining of what a pre or post patriarchal site could be. Peake and Shani are interested in exploring the fluid mythologies and imagined futures of lost civilizations. The artists take an archaeological excavation as a point of departure to imagine and represent non-hierarchal, pre-historical or futuristic civilizations, imagined through ambitious new sculptural works and wall paintings.
The installation marks a conceptual collaboration between the two artists, with Tai Shani’s sculptures surrounded by Florence Peake’s paintings. Drawing on her performance practice, Peake has collaborated with dancer Eve Stainton to generate the new fresco paintings. By drawing around each other’s bodies on the horizontal surface, before painting on the panels vertically, the work suggests a plurality of abstract embodiment and vibrating temporality. Tai Shani’s work occupies the central gallery space and frames the gallery entrance with vibrant symbolic sculptures; technicolour, psychedelic interpretations of mystical objects and ritualistic architecture.
The installation, which has transformed Wysing’s gallery, privileges sensation. Entering the space, the visitor crosses a voluminous threshold towards an altar, flanked enigmatically by long hybrid arms, both human and animal. Sculptures are flocked to create soft and sensuous objects, and walls have been painted with a vivid and gestural application of coloured plaster and ceramics. Using multilayered elements, including sound, the whole installation takes the visitor to a highly theatrical space and invites them to rest inside this immersive environment. The sound, with vocals from Florence Peake and produced in collaboration with recent artist residency and composer Maxwell Sterling, suggests a pre-linguistic dimension where speech is not yet acquired, but open.
Video: Wilf Speller
Florence Peake’s practice encompasses visual art, dance and performance. As a trained dancer Florence Peake’s background in choreography and painting stimulates a studio practice that is both diverse and immersive. Peake is often working performatively to incorporate drawing, painting and sculptural materials. Florence Peake’s work has been shown nationally and internationally; she is a recipient of the Jerwood Choreographic Research project, 2016. Her solo performance piece, Voicings, has toured to Sara Zanin Gallery, Rome, 2017; the Serpentine Gallery, Mysterical day, 2016; Somerset House for Block Universe performance festival, 2016. Solo exhibitions include: WE perform I am in love with my body, Bosse and Baum Gallery 2017, The Keeners, Solo show at SPACE 2015; Hall of the swell, Gallery Lejeune, 2015; The BALTIC, Newcastle ensemble piece MAKE. Group exhibitions include: Walled Gardens in an Insane Eden, curated by Marcelle Joseph 2017, Hayward Gallery, a 3 month performance installation as part of Mirrorcity, 2015; National Portrait Gallery, performing group work Paper Portraits, 2015. She has done commissions from: Whitechapel Art Gallery; Yorkshire Sculpture Park; Modern Art, Oxford; Chapter Arts, Cardiff; Harris Museum, Preston; David Roberts Art Foundation, London.
Tai Shani's multidisciplinary practice, comprising performance, film, photography and installation, revolves around experimental narrative texts. These alternate between familiar narrative tropes and structures and theoretical prose to explore the construction of subjectivity, excess and affect and the epic as the ground for a post-patriarchal realism. Shani's on-going project Dark Continent Productions that proposes an allegorical city of women is an experimental and expanded adaptation of Christine de Pizan's 1405 pioneering feminist book, The Book of the City of Ladies within which Christine builds an allegorical city for notable women drawn from a medieval conception of history, where fact, fiction and myth are blurred. This non-hierarchical approach also determines the construction of the characters and narrative of Dark Continent. Shani has presented her work extensively in the UK and abroad, recent exhibitions and commissions include, including Tensta Konsthall, Stockholm (2016); RADAR commission, Loughborough University, (2016), Serpentine Galleries (2016); Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt (2015); Southbank Centre, London (2014-15); Arnolfini, Bristol (2013); Matt’s Gallery, London (2012) and FRAC Nord-Pas de Calais and Loop Festival, Barcelona (2011); The Barbican, London (2011); ICA, London (2011).