New and emerging artists - carefully chosen so you don't have to...
Practice: film / installation / performance
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Juliette Blightman is by no means a newly emerging artist - in her native UK, especially, there's been a buzz around her work for several years. But wider recognition of her disarmingly direct, unadorned practice is comparatively recent.
Working mainly with film, performance and installation, Blightman deals with the scarcely noticed rituals and repetitions embedded within our lives: these can include moments as innocuous as the contemplation of familiar surroundings, exemplified by early 16mm films such as as a period in which nothing happens (2007).
(Largely) true to the movie's title, the camera focuses for several minutes on an unexceptional domestic interior before simply panning sideways; its movement approximating a glance or sudden awakening from a kind of reverie.
Both here and throughout her work, Blightman implies that non-events are, in a sense, richly eventful; not only as records of the accrued minutiae constituting large parts of our lives, but as reflections of highly personal, individual experience of the passing of time.
This paradox is paralleled by the endeavour to describe subjective temporality via the constraints of time-based mediums - a contradiction which Blightman constantly emphasises.
Her films, for example, are created using an ancient, hand-wound clockwork camera, the duration of the footage dictated by the three-minute film stock. They are screened using projectors whose clattering spools audibly mark out a kind of mechanical ticking.
In similar fashion, Blightman's performances and installations are often punctuated by scheduled 'events' which underscore her presentation of time as both delimited and experiential.
The 2010 installation sailing by places a teacup and radio on a windowsill overlooking a river. The radio is programmed to play Rod Stewart's classic 'Sailing' four times a day.
A 2008 intervention at London's ICA saw the artist arranging a goldfish and bowl, a pot plant and an apple in front of a window. Reminiscent of a scene from one of her films, it was titled please water the plant and feed the fish.
This titular entreaty was carried out daily at 3pm, animating the tableau via a proscribed directive. Yet the piece was equally replete with smaller, often imperceptible time-marking movements: the fish swimming in its bowl, the shifting light framed by the window; organic changes in both the plant and the apple. A 'still-life', in short, imbued with quiet activity.
In its exploration of the gently mundane, Blightman's work acknowledges the kind of occurrences that have, in some form or another, featured in human lives for many centuries, yet remain, through their very ordinariness, largely unacknowledged. Whether concerned with clock-watching or simply watching, her musings strike a chord that is familiar to us all.
Added March 2011
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