Nottingham Contemporary announces Marvin Gaye Chetwynd Tala Madani

Nottingham Contemporary presents Marvin Gaye Chetwynd Tala Madani on view 25 January–23 March 2014.

Madani’s painting is performative in both style and subject matter. Typically her characters are male and engaged in enigmatic, abject and brutalised group behaviour, often with unspecified political overtones. The material of paint is often equated with bodily fluids, or familiar motifs from canonical post-War American art—itself an authority structure.

In a new series of paintings, Madani has worked on paintings she has commissioned from commercial artists in China, of illustrations from a well-known learn-to-read series of children’s books. Madani remembers these from her own childhood in Iran and the US. The ordered existence and normative gender roles in the original scenes—stereotypical vignettes of middle-class English childhood in the 1950s—are subverted by the addition of the actions and bodily excretions of Madani’s little men.

For her first solo exhibition at a UK institution, Marvin Gaye Chetwynd presents a selection of interrelated recent works around two large-scale performative sculptures inspired by films—Brainbug from Starship Troopers (1997) and Catbus from My Neighbour Totoro (1988). The exhibition will be accompanied by a major new performance for Nottingham Contemporary’s large subterranean performance space. The props and footage from will then join Catbus in the exhibition.

Often starting life as handmade props, costumes and sets for her joyful and anarchic performances, Chetwynd’s sculptures and installations acquire an afterlife in exhibition spaces. At Nottingham Contemporary they will be frequently animated by performers and dancers. Cousin It of The Addams Family will host the exhibition’s visitors. The space will be transformed by an all-over treatment of the floor.

Chetwynd was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2012. She is influenced by the history of popular performing, including medieval mummer’s plays, carnivals, drag acts and political demonstrations, as well as performance in art history. She uses popular culture to give new meaning to the classics and vice versa. Her performances have referred to Giotto, John Milton, Charles Dickens, Karl Marx and Dante, but also Meatloaf, The Addams Family and Star Wars. Never shy of taking on big issues, she champions the values of the amateur and the art of improvisation; she moves easily between folk traditions, sci-fi, ’60s Happenings and contemporary moral issues.

The Green Room, Chetwynd’s new performance, draws on her research of Nottingham’s extensive ancient cave system underneath the city centre. Scenes relating to personal debt are influenced by Dante, and include performers who are themselves in debt. Filmed in the caves, they will be screened during the performance. Other props and characters include a Cat Temple and Chewbacca’s family from the Star Wars Holiday Special.

Nottingham Contemporary
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