This group show is curated by Drawing Room and is especially concerned with taking lines for a walk off the page and into the space of the gallery and other surroundings.
The works ranged from a Sol LeWitt, first drawn in the Lisson Gallery in 1957, and re-drawn for this show; through a Fred Sandback in a dark corner – which didn’t feel much like ‘activated space’ to me; to this Song Machine 19 (the length of a strand of your hair of the width of your arms, unfolded) 2011 by Athanasios Argianas. The narrow brass strip is photo-etched with phrases which recur in a shifting order, creating a kind of poetry as you move around the work. There was a spoken performance of the work during the opening but I haven’t been able to find a recording of it yet.
In the same room was a Richard Long work from 1980, A Four Day Walk. The gallery notes say that the work ‘shifts the parameters of drawing to consider man’s physical yet transitory relationship with the world’. What strikes me most is that works of this kind are read in the viewer’s mind, so you create an image for yourself, which may of course be a transitory one, though not physical.
In another room on the ground floor was an installation by Monika Grzymala Raumzeichnung (outside/inside), created from 7 kilometres of tape. I found a stop-motion film of the installation and was surprised to see that she started from the window, with the clear tape. I had assumed – I don’t know why – that this started with the black tape, as a sort of whirling vortex, which threw it’s ripples out and across the space. It seems quite different to think of it as a flow converging on the centre of the black area.
Opposite was this photo by and of Tom Marioni, One Second Sculpture 1969. He threw a coiled metal tape measure into the air. It made a drawing in space as it opened up – one moment of which is capture here – and finally fell to the ground as a line. He wanted to ‘eradicate the distinctions between sculpture and performance’ but this series of works was very controversial at the time. I didn’t know anything about this history and my first reaction to the photograph was that it was like a picture in someone else’s family album: it meant enough to someone at some time to take this picture and keep it, but it’s meaning was not recoverable by the viewer.
Upstairs were several works by K Yoland from a series Border Land Other, 2013-14: 3 photographs and a film of a performance, in which she ‘unfurls an unruly paper line, which refuses to settle in one spot, referencing the complexity of carving up land on a map and the arbitrariness of borders.’ (gallery notes) The odd thing about this was that of course the photographs do exactly that – capture the line as it settles in just one spot for ever. So there is a tension in the series about when a border or line is settled and when it isn’t.