Aly Helyer | Sigrid Holmwood | Benjamin Senior | Emma Talbot
Curated by Caterina Lewis
5 - 26 March 2016
Artists' talk chaired by Sacha Craddock Saturday 19 March 5pm
The term ‘Theatre of the Absurd’ was coined by the dramatist and writer Martin Esslin in reference to a group of mid-twentieth century playwrights who were deeply influenced by Albert Camus’ existential theories on the meaninglessness of life. In The Myth of Sisyphus, Albert Camus’ 1942 essay, he considered the fate of Sisyphus who was condemned by the gods to ceaselessly roll a rock up a hill only for it to roll down again. This punishment that appears so cruel and utterly absurd Camus not only considers to contain essential meaning but also happiness.
Each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night filled mountain, in itself forms a world. The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.
Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus.
In Absurdist theatre the protagonists are often caught in apparently banal and meaningless situations, questioning the senselessness of their existence. ‘Finished, it's finished, nearly finished, it must be nearly finished’. The first line to Samuel Beckett’s one act play Endgame is an absurd way to begin. Formally the repetition is a device for suggesting the nature of cyclical, fragmented time but it is also humorous.
The artists in this exhibition have used repetition of form and fragmentation of structure as means to come to grips with some sort of incomprehensible experience or idea, a perceptual investigation as much as existential. Each of the four artists uses an idiosyncratic visual language to explore apparently absurd and frequently humorous visual propositions. Acknowledging Beckett’s play and in the context of this exhibition, each work is positioned to deliver a singular, often oblique dialogue. A brief tableau of painting, video and performance.
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