Craig Fisher’s current exhibition of drawings at Viewpoint Gallery, Plymouth, depict images of destruction both suggested and actual, and the forms of attempted control that the state imposes, forms of control that have become symbolic of a lack of individual freedom. (From The People’s Republic of South Devon)
All of this is rendered in a cartoon-like simplicity, making it simultaneously surreal yet immediately recognisable. Guns, blood-splattered interiors and explosions show multiple violent happenings and possibilities; fencing, roadblocks and CCTV indicate some of the ways the state tries to moderate such behaviour.
Massive apocalypse is absent – no mushroom clouds or 9/11s here, but rather a danger more personal, possibly more random, and all the more real for it. It feels as if all the events could, and do, happen at an individual level, and could happen to any one of us. Indeed, there seems an implicit acknowledgement that we could even be the perpetrators, were we to be in the wrong place at the wrong time – and find ourselves on the wrong side.
That place would seem to be rather more America than Britain. Perhaps that is an inevitable reference given the history of violent cartoon imagery from that side of the Atlantic.
The time is slightly more ambiguous, but Waco is called to mind, with all the tragedy that that over zealous state intervention caused. One image that stands out as referencing a particular time and event is the drawing of the exploding Space Shuttle Challenger.
At the time that this happened, I remember drawing very similar depictions on the cover of my schoolbooks (children can be so cruel etc). My casual referencing of the calamity was twinned with a realisation that this was a very real event for the families of those on board. Due to the fact that it was the first shuttle to include civilians in its crew, the launch was broadcast live.
In my memory, I can still see the reaction the crew’s families had at the moments just before and after the explosion happened; initially joy and excitement, followed by confusion, then realisation and inconsolable grief – a national tragedy, but one grounded in individual loss. Wrong time, wrong place.
This exhibition is Fisher’s second at this venue, and is intended to be a counterpoint to his more commonly exhibited sculptural works. However, Fisher can’t help but bring several sculptural elements into the exhibition. And why not? It maybe brings us one step nearer, no longer just observers but participants.
So a fire place has a black void for a hearth (where else do you dispose of the evidence?) a wall is swiped with luxuriant blood and what could have once been red and white danger tape becomes a red and pink swathe, soft and visceral, having soaked up the scene it is protecting.
All the state can do is to tighten its grip and control what it can. All we can do is to expect the unexpected, and keep one eye on those watching us.
What could go wrong?
posted by Ray White, artist and curator
**** (pop along to the gallery to see the People’s Republic of South Devon exhibition notes) ****