Exhibitions Archive

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  • Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’
    Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’
  • Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’
    Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’
  • Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’
    Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’
  • Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’
    Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’
  • Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’
    Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’
  • Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’
    Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’
  • Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’
    Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’
  • Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’
    Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’
  • Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’
    Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’
  • Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’
    Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’
  • Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’
    Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’
  • Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’
    Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’
  • Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’
    Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’
  • Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’
    Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’
  • Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’
    Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’
  • Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’
    Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’
  • Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’
    Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’
  • Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’
    Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’
  • Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’
    Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’
  • Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’
    Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’
  • Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’
    Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’
  • Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’
    Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’
  • Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’
    Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’
  • Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’
    Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’
  • Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’
    Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’
  • Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’
    Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’
  • Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’
    Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’
  • Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’
    Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’
  • Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’
    Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’
  • Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’
    Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’
  • Erik Blinderman
    ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’
  • 5 September to 17 October 2009

‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’ will be the US-born artist Erik Blinderman’s first solo exhibition in the UK. Working predominantly with film and photography, the artist has developed a practice that shows a concern for the dislocation of time and place through unexpected narrative structures. Blinderman’s interest in Southend-on-Sea has also grown through regular visits during the last three years, and he has developed a body of work around the South Essex town that connects to recurring themes around duality and parallel histories. Interested in the construct of twin-towns, and the fact that Southend is now culturally connected to the Polish seaside resort of Sopot – part of a triad of conurbations that include Gdansk and Gdynia; a stretch of coastline called the ‘Tri-City’ – the artist provides a starting point for a rumination on community activism, world history, the transition since the break up of the Eastern Bloc from Communism to liberal democracy, together with its effects on culture and economics.






Like

many other small British towns, Southend’s second most spoken language is now Polish, yet Blinderman’s research has led to other less-obvious connections between the two places. Being the principal municipality along the Thames Gateway, it has had a long history of industrialised printing for both the British and international economy. After speaking with a former local printer about his own involvement with an East London press, Blinderman learnt that the Polish labour movement Solidarity – a name synonymous with the democratic revolution in Eastern Europe twenty years ago – produced printed matter by using many South Essex presses, as a result of the continual political suppression by the prevailing Polish Communist government of the 1980s. Through its focus on displaced production, Blinderman’s project becomes relevant to this hidden historical and cultural link, as well as the contemporary super-abundance of free newspapers, which by contrast, is grounded in pure advertising, and lacks any obvious political agenda.




With Blinderman

travelling to Poland to produce his material for the exhibition with print shops in Sopot, and subsequently travelling back to Southend to distribute these brochures (10,000 invitations to the exhibition opening will be distributed to homes in and around Southend-on-Sea), we start to see an examination of the impact of ‘subversive’ material and its effect on local communities. Blinderman has filmed the production process of his cards in Poland and intends to show the resulting 16mm footage within the exhibition; through this project the artist is interested not only in the potential of the hyper-activity and proliferation of free publications in the UK, together with the effect the distribution of this information has on the populations of major towns, but also, by turns, the history of self-publishing, underground presses and small print runs.

Duality and coincidence abound in this project. If the Tri-City council of Gdansk, Gdynia and Sopot promote the latter town with the phrase ‘See the sea and shop the shops’, then Blinderman’s interest in Peter Handforth’s

LP Sounds of the Sea and Ships – a vintage field-recording of coastal towns – has led to him to record his own footage of Southend and Sopot, and alter this ready-made title to ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’ for his exhibition (this adaptation is also a loose anagram of ‘Southend and Sopot’). Again, within a contemporary international cultural context, where local difference is levelled – the psychological space of shopping malls and architecture in small towns become increasingly similar and familiar – this project aims to look at the flattening of culture and history since the fall of the Berlin Wall twenty years ago in November 1989, as well as the anniversary of Solidarity sweeping to power in Poland. If, as we are constantly told, great business and culture is all about the local economy, then Blinderman’s project looks at the intrumentalisation of contemporary art for public consumption, and becomes a wider comment on the purpose of art as an economic cure in bad times, as well as good.




To inform his project,

the artist has been reading The Mirror of the Sea by Joseph Conrad, and The Sea and the Mirror, a long poem and commentary on Shakespeare's The Tempest by W. H. Auden, written between 1942 and 1944, and first published in 1944. Again, an interest in the sea, mirroring, town-twinning, community and duality underpin this research, and is translated into the installation at Focal Point Gallery in a variety of ways. For example, in the slide presentation Lofty Prospects, Blinderman individually narrates images taken in Southend, and evidence of his travels in Poland and Germany during the production of his exhibition. This work tells the story of the artist’s summer; complete with immigration and financial problems, it reflects the conditions in which the work was made, through photographs taken on the streets, and via the artist’s collection of printed matter (adverts, leaflets, and newspaper images), which he received during his trip. A sequence of images that show a number of shops in Westcliff-on-Sea, where the fragmented text, ‘a gentle climb over railway lines past pavement cafes

palm and trade parades a lofty prospect of the sea’ found on Westcliffe railway station, also acts as a leitmotif for the ensuing rhythm and themes of the slide narrative. To take this narrative further, the 16mm film Union Printing, which Blinderman has also made especially for the exhibition, again, shows the printing press in Poland producing his publicity cards, together with a Russian newspaper being printed for circulation back in Russia, and footage of free newspapers being distributed at an underground station in London.

Shot in multiple locations, with complex interweaving layers, the work in the exhibition aims to remain formally straightforward, even through subsequent reversals; if the cinematic work becomes more photographic – in that there are no camera movements, simply static shots – in opposition to this, a special timer set on the artist’s slide projector makes his chosen photographic material become more cinematic. The installation will be composed of items sourced from Southend Central Library; the 16mm projector, redundant display boards (these

red and white boards are redolent of the Polish and English national flags) as well as two white-washed glass cabinets, which relate to a photograph Blinderman has of the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin, pictured this summer with its own white-washed windows as part of an intervention by the artist Imi Knoebel. Again, this work plays a similar self-referential game around obfuscation and display. It points to the regeneration of storefronts in Southend – of closing and opening – yet away from the location of the project, towards the artist’s current home in Germany.

Erik Blinderman’s exhibition ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’ at Focal Point Gallery will run concurrently with a community-based workshop developed for Southend’s first Polish Arts Festival on Saturday 12 September 2009. Utilising the standard gallery practice of invitation card production as the basis for his workshop, Blinderman’s printed material will act as the impetus to a developing narrative around his personal, historical and cultural accounts relevant to Southend-on-Sea’s expanding Polish

community, as well as a further meditation on the Essex town’s twinning with Sopot, the famous Polish beach town on the Baltic Sea. The print workshop will take place in an empty shop in central Southend, contain the screening of a film by Kryzsztof Kieslowski, and represent an opportunity to develop an awareness and practice of self-publishing in art practice. For further information on this event, please call +44 (0)1702 534 108/

A limited edition print has been produced especially for this exhibition. Massenaufnahme (Mass Recording), Silver Gelatin Print, Paper size: 508mm × 606mm, Image size: 200mm × 200mm, 2009, is available in an edition of 20, signed and numbered by the artist. Price £100.

Erik Blinderman was born in New York in 1979, studied at the Staedelschule in Frankfurt between 2006 to 2008, and lives and works in Berlin. Recent exhibitions include ‘The Leisure Suite’, LeRoy Neiman Gallery, Columbia University, 2008; ‘Untitled’, Souterrain, Berlin, 2008; together with ‘Aspen 11 (Part 3)’ and ‘Secret-Flix’, both of which took place

at Neue Alte Brücke in 2007. He is currently making a documentary film called A Brief Report on the Villages, which deals with themes such as retirement property, gated communities and television fantasies such as the famous 1960s series The Prisoner. The film is set in Namibia, Wales and Florida.

For further information and images on this exhibition, please contact Laura Bowen, Focal Point Gallery Exhibition and Marketing Officer
on 01702 534 108 / <br/>laurabowen@southend.gov.uk.

Erik Blinderman ‘Sounds of the Sea and Shops’ is generously supported by Arts Council England, Southend Borough Council, the Polish Cultural Institute, London and Hungry Arts.