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Theo Cowley
Francis Summers

Friday 7, Saturday 8 & Sunday 9 January 2005 / 1 – 6pm
Private view 7-9, Friday 7 January

Performances   Friday 7.30pm-8.30pm,   Saturday 2 - 4,   Sunday 2- 4

Gavin Beschen -Theo Cowley


My Pictures - Francis Summers

Olivier v Bogarde - Theo Cowley

Combining sartorial wit with strategies of decomposition and recomposition, English Over Exposure is an exhibition that will feature the work of Theo Cowley and Francis Summers in a weekend of performance, video, sound and improvisational structural analysis.

In his video, sound and performance works, for example Gavin Beschen (2003) and Olivier vs. Bogarde (2004), Theo Cowley takes the names from real-time people (the pro-surfer and the two actors, Laurance Olivier and Dirk Bogarde) to create studies that are concerned with the presentation of personality (the defined character) and the relation of the individual to archetype. Gavin Beschen, in particular, imagines the young Olivier playing a Californian surfer in a theatrical mannerist style, complete with stage make-up, wig, putty nose and heavily rehearsed natural style. The works could be seen as second-order dramas where the characters will appear as objects in time, speaking and moving human sculptures, conveying poetry, literature, music and dance. The methodologies of the two character actors, as well as that of pro-surfing culture, collide, with their respective mannerisms, initially at odds, made perversely indistinguishable by the process of the performance. Continuing this process of structural character analysis and re-orientation is his OVB (2004), a video, sound and abstract reformulation of the previous performance, Olivier vs. Bogarde. Staging the previous works key themes (such as the character’s speeches) as recitals of different ‘texts’ (in the formalised languages of skateboarding, Gregorian chanting, and Japanese Noh theatre) - the result is dialogism of contexts, genres and belief structures embodied through sets, accents, chants, gestures, poses, moves and looks. Enabling an out of place sincerity is the key to Cowley’s enterprise. For English Over Exposure Theo Cowley will present video, performance and sound works further developing these aspects of his process.

Theo Cowley, born in 1976 in London, studied at School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Central St. Martins in London. He has shown performance, video and sound work at Butchershop, Chicago (2001); Five Years, London (2002), Hoxton Distillery, London (2002), Victoria Miro, London (2004) ‘Cohabitation’ Tactile Bosch, Cardiff (2004) and Darklights Digital Festival, Dublin (2004). He has collaborated as a videographer, writer and performer with Bock and Vincenzi Dance Theatre for their project ‘Invisible Dances’ (1999 – 2003), choreographer/director Marisa Zanotti, and performer/theatre designer Megumi Arimoto for ‘Box, I am Ancient’ East End Collaborations, London, Expo Festival, Nottingham (1999). His first solo exhibition will take place at the Whitechapel Project Space, London in 2005.

The installations of Francis Summers attempt to create a split experiential ground where the acts of collusion (I love this / want to be / have that) and resistance are interweaved in an oscillating and psychedelic play. Seductive images and sensorial affect converge to produce a zone of inverted signals and responses enacted through a process of intensive micro-editing. Themes of projective identity and slippages of the self recur in his work, which exists as an extended investigation of a representation through which we stumble and slide over ‘identity’ encountered as various industrially produced and impermeable surfaces.

For English Over Exposure Francis Summers will produce a video and installation work – SPIN SPIN SPIN, YES, DONE. BETTER. – reworking footage from the film The Princess Diaries, where a girl is instructed in the art of femininity, self-betterment and ideological re-evaluation (from teen group-alienation to adult self-alienation) in order to assume the helm of a fictional royal lineage. Looking at the tension between self-respect (remaining true to one’s self) and the entry into social etiquette (the organisation of self in order to operate) - the work will aim to playfully investigate, analyse, and disrupt the various language and characters put into play throughout the film’s narrative (examples of these structures are - the girl, the eccentric mother, the absent / dead father, the Law of the grandmother, the kindly but affirming assistant, the cheerleader, the Bitch, the Stud, the Real love, the false love / misrecognition, the Best friend, the first kiss, the first betrayal, the circulating logic of origins, the affirmation of identity, the true identity, the real you discovered).

Francis Summers (b. 1975, Strathroy, Ontario, Canada – studied at the Courtauld Institute of Art and the Royal College of Art) has recently had solo shows at Hoxton Distillery, London (‘Undo Unlove’, 2004) and City Radio Cars, London (‘Cease to Exist’, 2003) and participated in the 2003 Rotterdam Foto-Biennial. This year he has participated in the Echo Park International Film Festival, Los Angeles, ‘Do Something’ at Foating ip, Manchester, and has shown videos at 291, London and Space-twotentwo, London. He has also curated several exhibitions and experimental events, including ‘Suicide is Painful’ at On the Rocks, London (2003), ‘Animal, Vegetable, Mineral’ at Hoxton Distillery, London (2003), and ‘Sexperimental Weekenders’ at Five Years, London (2002). He has recently completed an MPhil on the subject of noise, investigating the possible uses of applying the logic of feedback to various processes of identity production.