Amanda Beech: The Church The Bank The Art Gallery

Published on this is tomorrow on 17/05/2012.

A review of Banner Repeater’s comissioned installation by Amanda Beech.

Despite its sharp paper-cut angles, which envelop the project space at Banner Repeater, ‘The Church The Bank The Art Gallery’ purposefully confuses its own boundaries. Using printed media, paint, tape and sheets of corrugated plastic, Amanda Beech has constructed a collage of delineations and overlapping viewpoints. These layers are both physically real, such as a sheet of plastic placed in front of the wall, and are depicted by photographic images of layered paper, itself papered onto the walls and ceiling: the architectural space in which the viewer stands. This space becomes another layer within an origami-like arrangement that houses the viewer, posed between The Church, The Bank and The Art Gallery.

It feels wrong to split these institutions apart in a sentence when they have been so deliberately conjoined in the work’s title. On the one hand, these three main constructs are each given their own space within the work. Three cut out circles are defined by printed text as The Church, The Bank and The Art Gallery, and form the central focuses on three different sides of the room. However, whilst the area allotted to the institution appears to be defined, the circle is in fact not whole. It is also a construction of layers; shapes cut out of several sheets of paper that together allude to the outline of a circle, bridges and beams of white paper criss-crossing the text. This intricate design contains an architectural depth akin to the vaulted ceilings of the symbolic buildings they represent. Yet they also spread indefinitely across the whole installation, connected to far-reaching points and corners through their base construction.

The two plastic sheets that break into the central area help the viewer to consider the physical space of the room as another component of this overlapping and unfolding system of surfaces and planes, and themselves within it. Additionally, violent lines of black tape both fracture and connect areas of the installation. Thereby, the space given to one institution has both variable boundaries that define it whilst also merging visibly across the space. Seemingly in contrast as something whole and singular, several large, hot pink dots are spread throughout the work. Yet they too are broken across edges. Even those neatly painted onto the corrugated plastic are fractured by the uneven light passing through the material, their integrity compromised.

A paper architecture model of complex systems of power, ‘The Church The Bank The Art Gallery’ illustrates how singular elements such as the self or an institution are embedded within complex structures of organisation. This applies directly to the situation and critique of art, featuring three institutions that historically have had great influence over artistic production. The viewer is left with the question of not only how to approach an art work critically from within this system, but also how the art itself can be critical, even political, whilst aware of its own entanglement.

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