Marianne Keating @ Rampa, Porto

30/11/19 GDLP

Emoji summary: 🇮🇪🌊🇯🇲

 

this is my last review of the year (and the decade, ah) before the white pube goes on annual december break. i wanna tie up some thoughts because this has been a really funny and like, an outlier year for us as critics i think. when we began writing, each text was very much an impression. it was this is how it felt to go to this exhibition, ah, this is what shape the art left on my body; like a fingernail crescent dug into a bar of soap. sometimes it was a love bite, and sometimes I didn’t feel anything at all. As time went on, we got fidget-y and woke, and wrote not just about the exhibition but the gallery it was sitting inside. then, not just about the gallery but the art scene it was a part of: the locality, histories, politics, and responsibilities of the wider cultural strategy. This god-tier art criticism is obviously best exercised when i am writing in the place that I live and know best, liverpool, n tbh it’s the writing i appreciate most as a reader too - when it’s opinion made by someone who sees all the changes in seasons and shows. but as much as i have wanted to operate at constant galaxy-brain levels, i haven’t really been able to stay writing there bc in 2019 we have travelled so much - too much, sorry Greta. consensually kidnapped by the art world and taken everywhere from india 2 aberdeen, madly keeping up our weekly writing schedule and day jobs and relationships somehow. it’s been a lot. so p necessarily, naturally, my writing has gone back to impressions and somatic currents. wavy wavy days. This isn’t a bad thing but i can’t shake the weird guilt I have when i roll up to the gallery as an art-tourist to write, cause there must be so much I’m not addressing; like, it’s hard to figure out what people were saying before you walked into the room.

    not being familiar with artist, gallery or city THIS was the roadblock thinking inside me like a lump 2 weekends ago when i flew solo to see irish and london-based artist Marianne Keating’s exhibition at Rampa in Porto. if you don’t think the review has started yet, u might think it starts here: The space itself is like an empty, dusty carpark shape thing, down a slope n next to a mechanics. the show had one giant projection playing out loud, a double projection at the back, 2 tv screens mounted and a slide carousel projector clicking through images / alongside a few artefacts. lots of floorspace; lots of telly,,, it was everywhere. and one big still would have punctuated the constant movement; the space was dying for a billboard-size pasted image u’ll just have to trust me. the subject of all the videos was something I didn’t know about until i plopped myself down to watch. After the abolition of the slave trade, the white powers that be wanted to make up for loss of labour in Jamaica and brought a lot of people over from Ireland (who, importantly, were at a point of desperation during the famine) under the conditions of indentured servitude, meaning they would farm coffee, ginger, cane and so on in exchange for housing and food < instead > of pay, until they’d served their contract. the double projection piece Landlessness tells this story through text on screen of conversations between white nightmares, pulled from different archives inc. The Limerick Reporter Archive and National Archives Jamaica. Text like ‘An increased white population will be productive in Jamaica’ and ‘The improvement of the moral and religious conduct of the black population will be achieved by a proper selection of emigrants.’ real, shocking, clinical. an education i’m glad for, and also glad to see coming through in the work of a white artist bc i think white artists should meet the burden of decolonisation like this. i appreciated filling in the gap in my history but i wish alongside the facts was an update, a where are they now if u will. ye there was a hint of this but i wanted to know what it actually meant to be part of the irish diaspora in jamaica for this generation. it felt like the tape ran out before we got there, which is a shame bc dominant voices in this show were colonisers and not the colonised AND this exhibition was aba 65% archive and 35% art, so an update could have balanced the scales. that’s it for me. i was glad for the exhibition but i wanted nowness n newness n a bit more energy i could identify as the artist’s alone beyond composited archive footage + appropriated material which, here, blurred out and away of the artist’s reach and into the history it came from (i mean, see arthur jafa’s Love is the message, the message is Death or jenn nkiru’s REBIRTH IS NECESSARY or Mark Leckey’s oeuvre - these artists brought something to the table, then sat down to eat, and that manifested an atmosphere).

    & so what did it mean for this exhibition to happen now at Rampa in Porto? i had to reach out. artists in portugal i spoke to said no one ever puts on political exhibitions, that the conversation doesn’t go there so they were glad Keating’s show brought it to the foreground. this is only Rampa’s 3rd show and all have been external curators, so ppl aren’t sure what they are about yet n neither am I from looking at install shots and press releases but i hope they solidify into something more coherent because from speaking to em they have good politics and I think they could go on to do some good programming that comes from them: both exhibition and show were missing that innateness i guess, outsourcing too much which left me floating as a visitor. it will be good to see what both go on to do next. 

 

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* a small p.s. this review was a commission which u may or may not care to know: the curator of this exhibition, Miguel Amado, invited me to Porto to write about the show, which i am super grateful for. Amado was the curator at Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art when i was critic-in-residence there and has been super supportive and intent on facilitating paid writing opportunities for us on the white pube before our patreon was where it’s at now. this being a commission doesn’t make me write nice things if that isn’t already obvious, it just pays for my attention and time to reflect on art (and here, covers me physically getting to Portugal woooo). a v good and generous thing imo / see the accounts page on this website for all jobs we do if u wanna have a nose. 

b͓̽e͓̽s͓̽t͓̽ ͓̽v͓̽i͓̽e͓̽w͓̽e͓̽d͓̽ ͓̽i͓̽n͓̽ ͓̽l͓̽a͓̽n͓̽d͓̽s͓̽c͓̽a͓̽p͓̽e͓̽
͓̽o͓̽r͓̽ ͓̽o͓̽n͓̽ ͓̽a͓̽ ͓̽d͓̽e͓̽s͓̽k͓̽t͓̽o͓̽p͓̽

{ 𝔱𝔥𝔢 𝔬𝔫𝔩𝔶 𝔯𝔢𝔞𝔰𝔬𝔫 𝔗𝔥𝔢 𝔚𝔥𝔦𝔱𝔢 𝔓𝔲𝔟𝔢 𝔠𝔞𝔫 𝔰𝔱𝔦𝔩𝔩 𝔢𝔵𝔦𝔰𝔱 𝔦𝔰 𝔟𝔢𝔠𝔞𝔲𝔰𝔢 𝔰𝔬𝔪𝔢 𝔬𝔣 𝔬𝔲𝔯 𝔯𝔢𝔞𝔡𝔢𝔯𝔰 𝔠𝔥𝔬𝔬𝔰𝔢 𝔱𝔬 𝔰𝔲𝔭𝔭𝔬𝔯𝔱 𝔲𝔰 𝔢𝔞𝔠𝔥 𝔪𝔬𝔫𝔱𝔥 𝔳𝔦𝔞 𝔓𝔞𝔱𝔯𝔢𝔬𝔫. 𝔚𝔢 𝔰𝔬𝔪𝔢𝔱𝔦𝔪𝔢𝔰 𝔡𝔬 𝔱𝔞𝔩𝔨𝔰 𝔞𝔫𝔡 𝔬𝔱𝔥𝔢𝔯 𝔧𝔬𝔟𝔰 𝔟𝔲𝔱 𝔓𝔞𝔱𝔯𝔢𝔬𝔫 𝔦𝔰 𝔥𝔬𝔴 𝔴𝔢 𝔤𝔢𝔱 𝔭𝔞𝔦𝔡 𝔣𝔬𝔯 𝔱𝔥𝔢 𝔞𝔠𝔱𝔲𝔞𝔩 𝔴𝔯𝔦𝔱𝔦𝔫𝔤 𝔥𝔢𝔯𝔢 - 𝔱𝔥𝔢 𝔯𝔢𝔳𝔦𝔢𝔴𝔰 𝔫 𝔞𝔯𝔱 𝔱𝔥𝔬𝔲𝔤𝔥𝔱𝔰 𝔞𝔫𝔡 𝔰𝔬 𝔬𝔫. 𝔄𝔫𝔡 𝔦𝔱'𝔰 𝔰𝔬 𝔦𝔪𝔭𝔬𝔯𝔱𝔞𝔫𝔱 𝔱𝔬 𝔲𝔰 2 𝔱𝔥𝔞𝔱 𝔴𝔢 𝔠𝔞𝔫 𝔰𝔱𝔞𝔶 𝔦𝔫𝔡𝔢𝔭𝔢𝔫𝔡𝔢𝔫𝔱 𝔠𝔯𝔦𝔱𝔦𝔠𝔰 𝔴𝔦𝔱𝔥𝔬𝔲𝔱 𝔱𝔦𝔢𝔰 𝔱𝔬 𝔟𝔦𝔤 𝔣𝔲𝔫𝔡𝔢𝔯𝔰 𝔬𝔯 𝔦𝔫𝔰𝔱𝔦𝔱𝔲𝔱𝔦𝔬𝔫𝔰, 𝔭𝔲𝔟𝔩𝔦𝔠 𝔬𝔯 𝔭𝔯𝔦𝔳𝔞𝔱𝔢. 𝔗𝔥𝔞𝔫𝔨 𝔶𝔬𝔲 𝔣𝔬𝔯 𝔟𝔢𝔦𝔫𝔤 𝔬𝔲𝔯 𝔬𝔩𝔡 𝔱𝔦𝔪𝔢𝔶 𝔭𝔞𝔱𝔯𝔬𝔫𝔰 - 𝔴𝔢'𝔩𝔩 𝔡𝔬 𝔬𝔲𝔯 𝔟𝔢𝔰𝔱 𝔱𝔬 𝔭𝔯𝔬𝔡𝔲𝔠𝔢 𝔮𝔲𝔞𝔩𝔦𝔱𝔶 𝔬𝔲𝔱𝔭𝔲𝔱; 𝔴𝔯𝔦𝔱𝔢 𝔰𝔱𝔲𝔣𝔣 𝔱𝔥𝔞𝔱 𝔦𝔰 𝔱𝔥𝔬𝔲𝔤𝔥𝔱𝔣𝔲𝔩 𝔞𝔫𝔡 𝔰𝔦𝔫𝔠𝔢𝔯𝔢. }

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