Animation exhibition Momentary Momentum seeks to show how dramatic changes between the past and present resonate equally. The once simple, naive and exalting emotions portrayed in folk tales have given way to animated versions of contemporary life that evoke the same, and often quaint, acts of living. The 20 installations at the Parasol Unit seek to show how still images moving before our eyes can open us up to their magical beauty as well offer an alternative, surrealist view of our reality.
One of the most captivating works is Japanese artist Tabaimo’s offering Hanabi-ra (2002, pictured). Beautiful flowers growing on a man’s back slowly lose their petals, wilt and die before the body itself falls apart. It shows human decay in an initially whimsical, symbolic fashion before abruptly disturbing the tranquil setting by littering the base of the image with body parts. A floral theme is also present in a real-time animation by Qubo Gas entitled Shimmy Shimmy Grass (2002 – 2003) which displays an abstract garden that responds to local weather conditions. It was rather dull on my visit, but it was a drab, cold and windy day so I recommend waiting for a warm and sunny day to see it flourish.
An abstract garden that responds to local weather conditions.
Other installations attempt to be more historical and political. Kara Walker’s 8 Possible Beginnings or: The Creation of African-America (2005) uses shadow puppetry to tell, well, a creation of African-American which tries very hard but achieves little. Better is Susanne Jirkuff’s Feel It (2004), a hip hop video staring one line drawings of George W. Bush and Colin Powell as rappers to the sounds of Timbaland and Magoo. Criticising the Bush administration is nothing new, but it has a simplistic charm in its stripped down visuals.
There are some very entertaining short stories. David Shrigley’s Laundry (2006) is Chris Morris like in its hilarious deadpan delivery and minimal imagery. A man takes his horse to the laundrette to be cleaned with success that pokes fun at the way shop signs are thought to be so impossible to ignore. In La Revolution des Crabes (2004) by Arthur de Pins we learn how crabs suffer from walking in the same direction all their life in a Disney-like cute and witty tale that can also be read as an allegory of progress hampered by social constraints. A personal favourite is Michael Dudok de Wit’s Father and Daughter (2000) in which a daughter is seemingly abandoned by her father. Its pastel colours and typically French style is a joy to behold even if the story lacks substance.
A Disney-like cute and witty tale that can also be read as an allegory of progress hampered by social constraints.
A couple of the installations are good to look at but hard to glean anything from such as Christine Rebet’s Brand Band News (2005) with forced jumps in its cowboy narrative and split over three projections. Just when it seems to be getting to the point of the nonsense, red curtains fall to set it off at a tangent. But this is a minor quibble with an exhibition in which the look is the key motif rather than the immediate meaning it offers. This is especially the case with Georges Schwiszgebel’s Jeu (2006) or the oldest work here, Un Miracle by Robert Breer (1954) which are only intended to exist for the short space of time they are on screen.
Momentary Momentum is a lot of fun visually and provides plenty of portals into the artist’s abstract view of the world. Go see the crabs and wonder if you ever turn from the direction your life is heading in and consider if you will let your body wilt like Tabaimo’s and fall to the floor before truly blooming.
Momentary Momentum is on until May 12. For information, visit www.parasol-unit.org