Ryan Gander is a raconteur operating with the slightest of means, his stories rarely encompassing direct description of people, places or events. Gander’s narratives are instead sketches, obliquely assembling a cast of familiar figures (from Tolkien to Inspector Morse) and complete fabrications (characters have included ‘Abbé Faria’ and ‘Marie Aurore’). His installations and publications are polysemous constructions that may trace the failure of Modernism’s utopian enterprise, incorporate a huge replica of a doorbell cover, or allude to a distant relative.
No connections are posited between these diverse referents; the audience must trace the story. While authorship is by no means relinquished, the didacticism of narrative always sidestepped – tellingly, one piece was titled ‘Loose Associations Lecture’ (2002). In 2006, Gander’s installation in the former Whitechapel Library, ‘Is this guilt in you too?’ – (Cinema Verso), was facilitated with the support of Outset.
The work disorientated the viewer by placing them unwittingly on the other side of the modern day looking-glass – behind a cinema screen. On the other side of this played a ghostly film, seen in reverse, beyond which lay an unreachable auditorium.