AF1 + AF2, Arts Forum, Hastings 2018
ARISTS: jane cordery
100 years ago Woolf was preparing her first novel for publication.
Today she is considered one of the foremost modernist female writers of the 20th Century, a pioneer of streams of consciousness narrative; her work, themes and concerns remain uncannily relevant to today’s society.
This all female group of nine contemporary artists seek to interpret Woolf’s written work on themes of memory, the passage of time, the corrosion and rejuvenation of life, the status of women in society, the consequences of war and existentialism. The exhibition included installation work, sculpture, photography, sound and video works.
It seemed consistent to Mailer as curator, to reference the architectural and intimate physical constructions in Woolf’s life and the National Trust's exhibition in 2018 at Knole – A Woman’s Place. Throughout her novels Woolf uses rooms and windows as a metaphor for a person’s physical or personal space in a period of extreme emotional restriction and internal turbulence brought about by social conditioning. The aspect provided by looking through empty picture frames and an abundance of dead trees, offers a physical, installation experience, as a way in for the viewer to this collection.
As a contributing artist, Mailer's unassuming sculptures shepherd the viewer through a mesh of spatial perception to consider the absent, presence of a body. There is a tangible perception of an outer, self-controlled persona with it’s inner, intuitive yet untameable thoughts. This contradiction between the imposed social conditioning with the suppressed internal and wild emotions is evident and played out in different ways by Woolf’s characters in her novels. A century later human nature still conforms; unable to reconcile to its darker side; complicit to contemporary discrepancies or double standards to maintain a way of life.