Period: 8 March 2019 – 22 March 2019
Artist: Colin Booth
Location: Prenzlauer Studios, Berlin, Germany
Colin Booth has been a multimedia artist since 1993. In his expansive and complex body of work the artist often uses found objects, texts or concepts as a starting point to create his works. These various unexpected sources, constituted of tangible and abstract elements, converge in a body of work that is reduced and concise in its form yet becomes larger and more expansive in its concept.
For his first solo exhibition in Berlin, Colin Booth presents a selection of previous and more recent works shown together for the first time. New dialogues are instigated through the ways the works are displayed and together, they colourfully illustrate his artistic production over the last few decades. Booth’s minimalistic approach is clearly visible throughout his artistic production, an attentive eye that searches for accuracy whilst industrial production methods are used to create the final artworks. The sculptures are reinterpretations of found materials as he engages in a game of appropriating and polishing forms and concepts until they are reduced to their bare ideas and shapes. In a prolonged interplay between form, origin and conceptual framework, the viewer’s gaze engages with the ambiguity and purity present in the works.
In English Air , Booth casts a new light onto his previous pieces by bringing his own heritage to the foreground asking the question: What does it mean to be English in this given time and how much of this Englishness can be observed by visitors in the artworks? The title is provocatively taken from the seminal and patriotic poem The Soldier by Rupert Brooke. The complete decontextualisation of the excerpt and its transformation into a title causes visitors to reflect on the relationship between “English”, a nationalistic concept grounded on borders and unnatural constructions of belonging, in contrast with “Air”, a word that naturally evokes freedom. Whilst the current political turmoil over BREXIT will undoubtedly change the future socio-political landscape, the physical landscape will remain immutable. England will remain physically part of the European continent. Colin will remain English. It is the self and collective senses of being that are constantly being challenged.
Paradoxically given the show’s title and its relationship to some of today’s most urgent themes, the works are not intrinsically political nor do they specifically depict English subjects. This incongruence is only resolved once visitors engage with the works and imbue the pieces with their own political views.
In Who is gone (2015) and Someone will remember us (2017) Colin once again uses text excerpts, this time from Sappho’s poems, to build cognitive relations with contemporaneity. The short texts are charged with ambiguity and unfinished endings that create the need for conclusions within the mind of the viewer. There is a subtle playfulness across the artworks, more prominent in works such as Institute of Play (2010) that intuitively is related to the building blocks used by children. The work was originally created as a commission for the V&A Museum of Childhood in London and has since been presented in different configurations. The work Child (2019) also illustrates this aspect, sharing an undeniable resemblance to Felt Suit (1970) by Joseph Beuys: a younger counterpart to the influential work by the German artist.
Colin Booth’s English Air is an exercise in unfolding seminal concepts of aesthetics, construction and sculpture making, where industrial elements and techniques are embraced in producing works that create a dialogue with universal themes such as presence, memory and the nature of the art object.
Colin Booth was born in Gateshead and lives and works in St Leonards on Sea. He has had solo exhibitions at the De La Warr Pavilion, Herbert Read Gallery, James Hockey Gallery, V&A Museum of Childhood, Laing Art Gallery and more recently at University La Cambre in Brussels and MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) London. In 2018 he was a finalist in the Chaiya Art Awards and was selected for the 38t h EVA International in Limerick. His work also featured in the Whitstable Biennial and appears in the new Thames & Hudson publication, The Word is Art, written by Michael Petry.
PRENZLAUER STUDIOS / KUNST KOLLEKTIV
Prenzlauer Studio is an international artist collective based in Prenzlauer Berg. The space thrives through an ideal of openness to the community that we are in, believing that artists and audiences alike are crucial to relevant discussions across subjects. In this participatory approach, the space also changes, expanding its programme to new forms and explorations of the arts, politics and community, thus fully embracing our ever-changing habitat.
To know more please visit the website www.prenzlauerstudio-kunstkollektiv.com .