Moving pictures

Juan Fontanive, Quicknesse, 2009

When we think of moving image art it’s usually film and video works that spring to mind first, but artists like to play and there’s more than one way to make an image move. One of the works I’ve enjoyed the most in recent years is Juan Fontanive’s Quicknesse, a simple flipbook device which traps a hummingbird in a loop of hovering. The sound of the work conjures a sense of agitation and urgency; the bird is beautiful, trapped in our gaze.

There is something extraordinary about this work. Whether it’s the simplicity of the device or the touching beauty of the image, in which the bird is isolated from its surroundings (the background of the image is painted out in white so that the bird floats), I’m not sure, but it has stayed with me since the first time I saw it. Effectively  this is stop motion animation as sculpture. Juan Fontanive has another London show opening at Riflemaker Gallery next month. Can’t wait.

A moving work on an altogether more terrifying scale was on view at Hauser and Wirth in London last year. Martin Creed’s Mothers was one of those works that makes you wonder how the gallery ever got public liability insurance to show it (a thought I more often have in Riflemaker, but that’s more about the wonderfully ramshackle nature of the building).

Martin Creed, Work No. 1092, MOTHERS, 2011

Although rationally I understand that the work won’t decapitate me  – it has 6’8″ clearance and I am 5’3″ in my stockinged feet on a good day, and not much more in shoes – my head can’t quite believe it to be safe to walk below the revolving neon. And not everyone is as short as me.

I rather love the bonkerness of this work. Interviewed for the BBC, Creed displays his usual pleasingly random approach to explaining his work. He says that mothers are important but adds that the idea of them spinning out of control rang true. He also suggests that the work is “no more dangerous than a road” which isn’t usually a test one needs to apply to sculpture.

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