Nauru Project Collaborator Dan Coopey's solo show 'Position 1' opens at the Agency Gallery, London

Dan Coopey's solo show at the Agency Gallery, London, opens in the end of October 2010. The exhibition will also feature a video piece commissioned by the Nauru Project and based on Dan Coopey's research on the Pacific tradition of String Figures.

Position 1

(two-channel videos & ink jet prints, 2010 courtesy the artist)

Dan Coopey
Position 1
30 October – 16 December 2010
Private View, 29 October, 6 – 9pm

Dan Coopey’s first solo exhibition at The Agency gallery, incorporating wall works, video and large-scale sculpture, continues the British artist’s ongoing investigations into the restrictions placed upon visual language by it’s incumbent means of representation.

A series of monitors relay demonstrations by a string figure expert as he goes through various modes of representing narratives through this ancient transcultural means. The expert remains anonymous however – his face digitally obscured – concentrating the viewer’s attention on the ability of depiction using the limiting constraints of string and the human body. The work continues themes brought to prominence in a previous extensive body of work Print Errors (2008 –) in which images were abstracted and ultimately destroyed by the failures of a home printer in the dying stages of its ink cartridge. Like the failure inherent in that body of work, here the instructor is always faced with the likelihood that his art will fail in its representative aims. With no sound, and the storyteller’s facial expressions obliterated; the narrative to the actions are lost, leaving only changing abstracted, architectural, models of string. The ongoing human desire to communicate primary imagery through secondary means is documented as being not merely a modern, technologically minded preoccupation but something far more historic and perhaps even intrinsic.

A series of 31 fly posters pasted to the gallery walls display an illusive narrative. Taken from a 1970’s Israeli children’s book with the original Hebrew text removed, the illustrations depict abstract shapes in bold flat colours seemingly shifting between each page. Without an eligible translation these mysterious images are akin to the forms depicted in the videos, autonomous and devoid of translation their apparent logic remains internal.

Dominating the gallery’s two floors are a series of architectural scale sculptures in which different coloured, densely woven wool sheets are stretched between two ceiling and floor mounted steel poles, their natural fall broken by the angled leaning of a glass sheet. In differing the angle relationship of glass to material in each work Coopey highlights the issue of constraint and limitation against variation again, this time in a design context. In repeating the work Coopey is asking the viewer to consider the gallery space and the sculpture’s formal makeup in the same context as the string figures: a situation of constant variability within unchanging formal parameters.

A duo of wall-mounted, A4-printed, Adobe-standard colour spectrum, collated at a spiral, act as formal pivot to the exhibition: within their arrangement they mask off significant blocks of colour leaving a dominating pigment, which in turn, relate formally to both the sculptural and video-based work. The spectrum, as generated by computer software, is demonstrative of the wide colour range available to the software user; yet ultimately it remains a limited construct.

Dan Coopey’s solo exhibitions have included Doodad at the Hayward Gallery Concrete space curated by Tom Morton in 2009. Group shows include SYC New Contemporaries;Wysing Arts Centre Presents at the Wysing Arts Centre as part of Field Broadcast; Riff Raff at A Palazzo Gallery curated by David Southard; Meteor at New Court Gallery curated by Oliver Basciano (all 2010); and Urchin Eater at Yinka Shonibare’s Guest Projects in 2008. He was recently proclaimed one of ten sculptors to look out for by Ten magazine.

66 Evelyn Street
London, United Kingdom

Cabinet Magazine Summer 2010 Issue: ISLANDS

Table of Contents

Colors / Red
Maggie Nelson
Something dipped
Ingestion / Table Manner
Anthony Grafton
The disposition of the Last Supper
Inventory / An Anthology of Memories from Cabinet’s Published Past
Alejandro Cesarco
Working through our issues
Leftovers / The Future of Neglect
Srdjan Jovanovic Weiss
Urban renewal and the politics of refusal
Radiantly Malevolent
Adam Jasper
Louis Wain’s psychotic cats
Blue Notes
Brian Dillon
Selling the siren song of the medicine cabinet
Scratch and Sniff
Gary Leggett
Diagnosing the allergic reaction
If It’s Part Broke, Half Fix It
George Pendle
The sincere horse sense of Dr. George W. Crane
Artist Project / Transmission
Maria Friberg
Dry Mountain Water
Allen S. Weiss
Afloat on a sea of stones
Cabinet v. Beşiktaş
Soccer as never before
Lords of the Ring
Alistair Sponsel
Beneath the surface of the atoll
Islands and the Law: An Interview with Christina Duffy Burnett
Sina Najafi and Christina Duffy Burnett
The juridical shape of America’s insular empire
Artist Project / Pulau Pejantan
Institute of Critical Zoologists
The Silence of the Dams: An Interview with Tetrapod No. 16-2-77
Mats Bigert, Sina Najafi and Tetrapod No. 16-2-77
Isles of Safety
Tom Vanderbilt
Considering the traffic island
A Topical Paradise
Hernán Díaz
Literary archipelagos since the great age of exploration
Artist Projects / Washed Ashore
Keren Cytter, Jason Dodge and Annika Ström
On the Monstrosity of Islands
D. Graham Burnett
Betrayal, solitude, madness, despair
The Islanders
Andreas Hiepko
Castaways in a divided Berlin
Artist Project / 65-Point Plan for Sustainable Living
Jeremy Drummond
An Archipelago of Centers
Sandy Isenstadt
A modernist reinvention of the kitchen
Postcard / Loss Accountability of Top-Down Ontologies
Mary Mattingly
Bookmark / Napoleon, Penguins, and Beef Tea
Cabinet is a non-profit organization. Please consider supporting by subscribing to the magazine, buying a limited edition artwork, or making a tax-deductible donation.

© 2010 Cabinet Magazine

A review of Judith Schalansky's Atlas of Remote Islands

Nauru isn't covered by Judith Schalansky in her Atlas of Remote Islands – just published in English by Penguin – but the found narratives woven into the histories of the fifty other islands profiled, will strike a chord with those familiar with the Pacific island’s tragic story. In her introduction Schalansky, a typographer by trade, explains she harboured a long endured fascination with maps and the exoticism that they hold within their careful cartographic coding, stemming she reasons, from the isolation of her childhood growing up behind the wall in East Berlin. Schalansky’s still-maintained preoccupation with the romantic notions of islands, which she raptures about, is strange given the stories of paradise lost, betrayal and criminality that she unearths in the histories of many of the fifty inhabited and remote islands subsequently profiled.

Each island is given a double page spread, with a carefully illustrative map on one side, faced with a short anecdotal history on the other, researched by the author through rare books. Also included for each is a timeline and a figure charting the diminutive population size of these communities. The reader hears stories of rotting whale carcasses subsuming the uninhabited Antarctic island of Deception; the tinpot despotism of the lighthouse keeper of Clipperton Atoll in the Pacific Ocean; the death of marooned sailor Harry Eld at the beaks of a thousand birds on Australia’s Macquarie Island; the much media-covered abuse rife among the 48 residents of Pacific Pitcairn; and the historic high child fatality rate among the Hebridean people of St Kilda. The histories that Schalansky recounts are not verifiable fact, but they offer a narrative in which – for all the geographic symbolism of the maps therein – humans play the central role. The reader cannot help but be left with a pessimistic take on our condition. That as a species, we are prone to the kind of horror that Joseph Conrad subjected Charles Marlow to as the protagonist in Heart of Darkness, one that, given isolation from distraction, people’s propensity to instigate an unnerving terror on each other, comes to a frightening fore.

Oliver Basciano