If only dust could speak

Awst & Walther

Arddangosfeydd | 19 Medi 2009 - 11 Tachwedd 2009

Awst & Walther explore fundamental issues around human existence. Concerned with survival, fatality and the sublime, they create live performance, installation, sculpture and drawings that combine formal qualities with the mythical and the surreal. From Utopian depictions to apocalyptic landscapes, the results are constructively challenging and respond to vital social, political and philosophical questions.

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Oriel Davies presents If only dust could speak, the first major solo exhibition in Wales by the Welsh and German artists duo, Manon Awst & Benjamin Walther who began their collaboration in 2005. Since then they have gained a fast growing reputation, exhibiting in the UK and internationally, and most recently with the Peckham Pavilion at the 53rd Venice Biennale of Art 2009.

Pooling their expertise in theatre and architecture, Awst & Walther explore their shared interests in social, spatial and experiential concerns to create performances, installations, sculptures and drawings that address fundamental themes around human existence. With central and recurrent concerns of survival, fatality and the sublime, their works combine a formal quality with the mythical and the surreal to create a tension between the ‘reality’ of a situation and the potential of what is beyond. From Utopian depictions to apocalyptic landscapes, from transitory sculptures to extensive investigative performances, the results are always constructively challenging and respond to vital social, political and philosophical discussion.

This major new show sees Awst & Walther continuing their fascination with the turbulent relationship between ‘surface’ and the ‘abyss’, and exploring the larger faults at the foundations of our culture. Using unconventional and symbolic materials - concrete and tar, gelatine and ice – the artists aim to express something of the conflict between the values which govern the way we live, and that which society pushes beneath the surface – which is hidden away from the ordered and monitored space of our daily lives.

The exhibition’s development has been informed and enriched by the artists’ recent experience of working in Berlin. Referencing architectural landmarks that are closely associated with Western society’s governing systems and commercial interests, the artists reveal a contemporary urban world that is saturated with materialism, fetish and neurosis. The exhibition presents new sculpture and installation, drawings on canvas and paper, and film footage of performance pieces by the artists. Awst & Walther will also present a live performative piece on the exhibition’s opening night, which will be captured on film and subsequently shown within the exhibition.

Artists’ statement “For us, transition is a moment of pure potentiality. The individual is confronted with his/her own energy and, therefore, it is a moment where the most exciting and revolutionary power can arise. Bearing in mind current issues to do with the credit crunch and general recession, we can justly say that we are living, right now, in a state of transition. What was valuable yesterday is confronted with the present reality, and we must find new values to anchor and support our daily lives. In this respect, the state of transition could be deemed as the beginnings of a revival - an opportunity rather than a threat.”

Commissioned by Oriel Davies Gallery.
Awst & Walther are represented by Hannah Barry Gallery, London.

Cafe Artistique Talk: Manon Awst & Benjamin Walther and Heather & Ivan Morison Axis and Oriel Davies Gallery hosted an evening of lively discussion considering artist duos and collaborative practice at Oriel Davies Gallery (22 September 2009) listen to talk >

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Gwerthu Allan

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