Exhibition Essays


May 2002

Review by Emma Jean

Emma Jean

Why do we chew gum? By doing so we create no product of any use, we don't improve our teeth (unless you believe the Extra commercials), nor do we fill our stomachs. And yet so many of us continue to do so, creating a product which is nothing but, as Regan Gentry and Clemency Boyce suggest, ‘Abandoned saliva reduced/ to infectious curiosities'.

SPAT consists of wads of chewing gum stuck to the floorboards and carpet of the exhibition space. There is an arrangement of small and large chairs placed in a semi circle on the carpet (but only one has any gum stuck underneath, I couldn't help but check). The windows of the gallery have been covered, giving the space a very different feel-the cream surroundings have a calming and yet slightly claustrophobic effect. The text of the show is activated by the viewer pressing time controlled wall switches which project text onto the walls. The words are a series of poetry like pieces which suggest that chewing gum can be a metaphor for human discussion, or chewing the fat.

‘Words lying/discarded and disregarded/lost in silent debate' is the opening of one projection. This suggests that if words are ignored or go unheard they become immediately defunct, if left unchallenged or discussed, they are ‘cast down/left to linger-stuck-obscured'. Discarded, they can be misconstrued, becoming ‘dirty/foul'. Words if left undebated become unremarkable remains like other products of the mouth.

It is unusual for Enjoy to hold an exhibition containing so much text. But similarly to Teresa Andrew's ‘Comfort Blankets', the text in SPAT is used not as an explanatory device but as a fundamental part of the artwork as a whole. The text adds a gravity to the humorous nature of the work. SPAT explores not only the ongoing discussion ‘What is Art' but also the importance of discussion in general, of debating words and therefore meaning, in all human endeavour