Angela Bulloch

14 Jan - 7 May 2006
work in collection

In collaboration with Modern Art Oxford, The Power Plant, Toronto and Secession, Vienna

The work of Angela Bulloch is complex and versatile. She produces light and sound works, drawing machines, interactive installations, series of photographs, video programs and works consisting of text. But behind her work’s diversity of form, technique and presentation, there always lies a focused concern for public structures and social systems. Just as these processes and behaviors have no static character, her works have no fixed form or order. They consist of installations and compositions of multiple elements that are selected and arranged for a specific location. The content of this exhibition, which has been organized in collaboration with Modern Art Oxford, The Power Plant in Toronto and Secession in Vienna, also varies with each museum; some elements have been changed or placed in different configurations.

In connection with the exhibition, a monograph containing texts by Helmut Draxler, Dominic Eichler, Branden W. Joseph and Juliane Rebentisch will be published in the spring of 2006.

Angela Bulloch (Rainy River, Canada 1966) lives and works in London and Berlin. In 1997 she was among those nominated for the Turner Prize. Soon she came to be regarded as one of the ‘Young British Artists’, but by no means does her work derive its meaning from sensational subject matter or a controversial means of presentation. The work does not lend itself to explicit interpretation but offers, instead, an abundance of experiences and meanings. Because of this it functions, in museum presentations, not so much according to the usual standards of uniqueness and an object-like character, but more in terms of process and participation. This moreover makes it difficult to ascribe any sort of designation to her work. Bulloch resists all ‘linguistic’ definitions that ignore the process-oriented aspect of the work. To her, meanings are not fixed in definitions; they exist only in terms of relationships and comparisons. Perhaps the most characteristic example of this are the Rules compiled by Bulloch: a multitude of instructions, regulations and rules related to different areas of social intercourse. By taking these rules out of their ordinary context, isolating them and making them public again in another context, their matter-of-factness is undermined and they offer an amazing view of social structures.

Bulloch wishes not only to expose such hidden structures but also to provide – through specific locations, circumstances or objects – insight on behavior and the interaction of ideas. She has made various installations involving light and sound (Crowd Sound Piece 1990 and Laughing Crowd Piece 1990) where the visitor imperceptibly controls the equipment by way of sensors. With the interactive works Sound Chairs (1991) and Sound Clash Benches (1996) the audience itself influences the sound and the appearance of image fragments. During the nineties she produced a variety of ‘drawing machines’ whose response to the presence and movement of people influences the execution of line. Nevertheless, these works do not aim for the surprise effect of a mechanical trick. Bulloch has not concealed the technique; she wants the viewer to experience the way in which he is involved in a process of actions and events. For this she often makes striking use of furniture in her installations. Chairs, benches and bean bags offer the visitor the opportunity to take the time to observe in calm surroundings. Bulloch has made these an actual part of her installations.   

In her work participation and cooperation play a role in a different way as well: when developing and carrying out many projects, she works together with designers, technicians and DJs. Here her concern is not only the added expertise but also, just as with the drawing machines, the relativeness of the artist’s own originality.

Bulloch has developed her Pixel Boxes in collaboration with ‘computer artist’ Holger Friese. These Pixel Boxes, wooden or aluminum cubes in varying sizes, have one side consisting of a monitor. The monitors light up alternately, each with a different monochrome color surface. Every Box contains three fluorescent lights: one red, one green and one blue.  For these Pixel Boxes Bulloch and Friese developed a computer program and an interface that can generate more than sixteen million colors. The color images are actually the smallest digital pixels taken from existing film and video material. Pixel Boxes stand independently in a space, functioning as sculptural and architectonic elements and comprising hypnotic and inescapable installations that sometimes include sound. The rhythmics of the color changes, as well as the language of the cubic wood/aluminum forms, clearly refer to minimal art. For Bulloch the cubes represent an imaginary realm where various ideas on art, visual analysis and reception can converge. Colors and forms do, after all, give rise to associations with a range of modernist movements in the art of the past century, from Cubism and Futurism to conceptual art and minimal art. The pixel patterns also form the basis for large wall paintings of regularly ordered sections of color. At De Pont, these paintings as well as several light installations will be shown: Macro World (2002) is an arrangement of pixel boxes whose colors are reflected in a reflecting ceiling, and RGB Spheres (2005) consists of four walls with colored lights whose configuration is derived from a painting by Bridget Riley. And in the work Daniel: Group Of Seven (One Absent Friend),

(2005) Bulloch combines light and sound with video images of people moving. It is as though Bulloch hereby provides the principles of minimal art with an unexpected but recognizably physical component, and the colorful installation becomes part of a nimble choreography.