The biennial Outset Residency at the South London Gallery (SLG) is offered to an international artist commissioned to make new work as part of the SLG’s exhibition programme.
Following a period of two months living in the SLG’s Outset Artists’ Flat as the inaugural artist in residence in the summer of 2013, URI ARAN presented his first solo exhibition in the UK, Five Minutes Before (11 December 2013 – 23 February 2014) with a new body of works instigated during the course of his stay in London.
Drawing on his knowledge and interpretation of the South London Gallery’s exhibition space gained during the residency, Aran presents a characteristically precise grouping of works, the focal point of which is a back-projected video shot partly in the gallery’s flat.
A mesmerising animation sees two passport photos dancing in tandem with digitally-sourced patterns, interspersed with footage of a friend of the artist reading from a script while Aran audibly directs him, and scenes of children with bikes in a park. A rousing orchestral soundtrack injects these apparently disparate elements with romantic potential, but also provides a unifying context which spills out across the other works in the exhibition. Seven enlarged passport photographs feature two men, a woman and a boy, but also a dog and a horse, while a series of drawings seamlessly unite digitally-sourced imagery with hand-drawn elements. A multi-faceted sculpture takes this layering of unexpected components several steps further, elegantly combining mirrors, photographs and object-laden shelves of a metal trolley as if to imply an only partially articulated raison d’être.
Making video, sculpture, drawing and photography, Aran presents his works in carefully orchestrated groups as if to imply the existence, albeit hidden, of an underlying logic dictating their manner of display. Rather than creating a visual and linguistic puzzle with a singular solution, he confronts us with the idea or notion of a narrative. Characters, props, settings and, at times, musical scores are present and identifiable to varying degrees, inviting the viewer to engage in a time-based experience.
Aran plays on the sense of reassurance that familiarity prompts, as well as on the often false impression of comprehension it can engender. Throughout his work to date, he has drawn on certain motifs and materials, gradually building a visual language which both borrows from cinematic devices and embraces ideas of sentimentality. Different types of hand-made and ready-made objects arranged on tables and desks, hand-drawn elements interspersed with digital imagery, and a variety of unexpected items and materials have all had a recurrent presence. Passport photos have also been used throughout, while animals are featured for the sentiment they can provoke, but also for the intrigue they hold for Aran as creatures incapable of morality, existing without culture and the codes that impact so heavily on our own creation and interpretation of meaning.
Uri Aran (b. 1977, Jerusalem currently based in New York) works in a variety of media, including sculpture, drawing and video. His work has recently featured in the international exhibition The Encyclopedic Palace, as part of the 55th Venice Biennale, and was the subject of a solo exhibition at Kunsthalle Zürich. Aran was also selected for the Whitney Biennial 2014 in New York.
Untitled, 2013. Video, sound, 15.44 mins was donated to the Israel Museum in Jerusalem by Outset England.