Parades & Processions
After posting my list of all the shows I wanted to see yesterday I actually ended up going to see one that wasn't on the list at all. Parades & Processions: Here comes everybody at The Parasol Unit is a group show of big art names all of whom are showing work based around the idea of... parades and processions.
Before I talk about the show I just want to mention The Parasol Unit itself. It has been open for a couple of years and is a huge space next door to the also huge Victoria Miro in the hinterland between Islington and Old Street. It really is a very impressive space, run as a not-for-profit foundation, and more like an American gallery than the usual more homely London gallery. It's quite strange really because the space and the artists shown are much more interesting that the space and artists at internationally renowned venues such at Tate St Ives or even Camden Arts Centre.
The show really is very good. One of the highlights is Rachel Hovnania who is a new name to me and makes work about beauty queens (bang on trend with my current article in Garageland - wish I had heard about her before I wrote it). She is showing a series of short films alongside a huge oversized beauty queen sculpture and a digital print of a massively elongated glove (my favourite piece). In the same ground floor space Fiona Banner's work although maybe slightly shoe horned into the theme is a continuation of her focus on military themes. I really liked the way her collection of newspaper clippings of military aircraft was shown in a museum style vitrine and her collection of hanging Airfix models took me back to my own Airfix fixing days. Alongside this Jeremy Deller's contribution looked a little lame (pictured) - a few clumsy videos from his American road trip - but his work does fit the concept of the show quite well. Also liked Michele Magema and her African inspired piece and Hubbard/Birchler's wall of uniformed marching band members (although its presentation and framing looked very similar to some work I saw in a photography show at the Bloombery Space recently - can't remember the artist I'm afraid). Elsewhere fresh from her Hayward triumph Annette Messager has an installation of childlike models made from clay and pencils in one of the many side rooms and Thomas Hirshorn does his normal crazy, scatter, quasi political thing on a big scale in a upstairs space.
I really wanted to read more about the concept and all the artists and was pleased to find there was a publication. I was however pretty disappointed with it as at a fairly hefty £15 it only had a short paragraph about each artist (the same text is reproduced as captions on the walls) and a short intro essay. So didn't buy it. Maybe the Parasol Unit should put as much effort into their publications as they obviously put into the selection and installation of exhibiting artists.