Pont/Bridge — Montréal
Presented at Dazibao from April 13 to June 17, 2017
Opening on April 13 at 7 pm
Performance by the artist at 7:30 pm
This exhibition is part of Pont/Bridge an ongoing partnership between LUX and Dazibao. Television is accompanied by a programme of British artists’ moving image works selected by Kathryn Elkin and Benjamin Cook and presented by their collaborator, artist and curator, George Clark on Saturday April 29, 2017.
In Television, British artist Kathryn Elkin presents four recent film works punctuated by a series of specially made interludes that provide rhythm and rhyme to the programme. Documentary interviews, proto pop videos and talk shows are reworked into new and less stable forms to explore what constitutes the televisual.
Elkin’s performance and video works concern role-playing and improvising, alongside an ongoing interest in the outtake and clowning on set. The videos often resemble simplified versions of music videos and TV talk shows. Elkin's works typically manifest through citing a recognisable or popular referent ‑ such as an artist, a song, a writer, or performer ‑ upon which she applies personal methods of translation, transcription and representation. She has an ongoing interest in shared cultural memory (as produced by popular music, television and cinema) and the melding of this information into biographical or individual memory.
Elkin comments: “I wanted to try and use the word television in an abstract sense, since what it means practically speaking is quite unstable. It has been detached from the TV set in the corner of the lounge receiving signals. Is it a style, a set of durations and properties or something more than that? ‘Television’, which means far seeing at its Latin root, is a kind of collective memory, but it also pervades our singular imaginary worlds and the works I do are trying to dig in to that. Maybe it could describe a process of looking into an inner world – maybe my own – that has been profoundly influenced by watching television, maybe it’s a means of moving across different senses of time.”
Dame 2 (2016) recreates an interview with British actor Helen Mirren from 1975 performed as a song by Elkin, backed by a choir of associates and friends she corrals into chanting in loose harmony. The work points to the difference between Mirren’s cultural status then and now, as well as the power play of the interview and its customary prompting of autobiography.
In Why La Bamba (2014), the musician John McKeown is fed lines by Elkin on-set from a 1975 Michael Parkinson interview with Dustin Hoffman. The result is an improv-style chat show featuring a new take on the original Spanish song (a pick of Hoffman’s on the long-running BBC Radio 4 show Desert Island Discs).
Michael’s Theme (2014), uses previously unseen fragments from the opening and closing sections of Parkinson, a popular 1970s British television chat show that was presented by Michael Parkinson, interspersing the show’s house band with a new recording created by Elkin at the BBC Scotland studios in 2014, to explore the conventions of a talk show and the notion of improvisation within the recorded-as-live TV format.
Your Voice (2016) employs the conventions of the proto pop video, lifting the melody of Those Were the Days, a Russian song which became popular in the west after Paul McCartney produced an English-language version with Mary Hopkin. This 1968 hit was accompanied by a studio video just prior to the era of music videos. Part of Elkin’s interest lies in the act of miming in pop recordings and questions what it means to be a woman performing voiceless in this context.
Kathryn Elkin (1983, Belfast) graduated from Glasgow School of Art’s Environmental Art course (2005) and received a Post Graduate Diploma in Art Writing from Goldsmiths College, London (2012). She was a LUX Associate Artist (2012-2013) and Artist in Residence as part of the BBC’s Artists in the Archive project (2014). She is a part-time lecturer in Fine Art at Liverpool John Moore's University. Recent exhibitions include Why La Bamba, CCA Derry with Seamus Harahan, Fig-2 at ICA, London and screenings at London Film Festival and Tate Modern. She is currently the BALTIC-Northumbria University Warwick Stafford Fellow.
Pont/Bridge is supported by the ministère des Relations internationales et de la Francophonie under the Coopération culturelle Québec-British Council program and British Council Canada.
Dazibao receives financial support from the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Conseil des arts de Montréal, the ministère de la Culture et des Communications and the Ville de Montréal.