Told is a joint exhibition at the London gallery Cole Contemporary, featuring Eve Ackroyd, Melissa Jordan and Virginia Phongsathorn. Having studied together and worked together in the past they decided to come together to put on a small more focused group exhibition. Taking particular source material and creating a group of works around this material inspired jointly by Walter Benjamin’s 'The Storyteller' this collaborative exhibition shows three very different artists with a clear thread between the works. They have also produced a pamphlet featuring written and visual work alongside the exhibition. Dazed tried to find out what makes these rising stars tick.
Dazed Digital: When did you have the idea for this collaborative show?
Melissa Jordan: We’ve been planning it for a long time, years even and we have worked together before.
Virginia Phongsathorn: I guess it was about a year ago that we started properly talking about doing a show together and put together a proposal which we sent around and Tom (Cole) said that he was interested and came to each of our studios. We then started talking about in what way we would manifest the show. Basically discussing whether we would all use the same source material, would it be something visual, would it be something written? What we decided in the end was that the exhibition would be loosely based around a text by Walter Benjamin called the storyteller. Which is a kind of discussion about what it is to be a storyteller in relation to being a writer of non-fiction or a writer of novels.
Eve Ackroyd: About the death of the storyteller really in modern times.
Melissa Jordan: He doesn’t talk about the visual arts in the text but it seemed something we could all connect with so it was a good starting point.
DD: And where did you go from there?
Virginia Phongsathorn: Then I think we all started to think about the way in which we use source material and how that differs between each of us and so, in a way, we all sometimes quite keen to work on a project so it was very much taking source material which was from a particular place, chosen quite specifically.
Eve Ackroyd: I suppose (for me) there is always some action with the figures, or there will always be a communal activity or biblical connotations. I mainly focused on news images for this show; I was interested in transforming these low-grade images into much quieter, calmer images, injecting a narrative within.
DD: Do you see yourselves as a collective?
Melissa Jordan: No, not at all. I think we probably will work together again and we have exhibited together before although we did discuss the work a lot.
Eve Ackroyd: I think it was a real pleasure to work as a three. We’ve worked in big groups before as with a large number of people as much as you might try to work along certain lines you do usually end up going in completely different directions and we really managed to keep hold of our original idea.
DD: All three of you used source material as a start point for your work for this exhibition, what did you choose and why?
Melissa Jordan: The pieces I have in the show are three sculptures and a light box. The image for the light box is just an image of Eddie Murphy’s arm in 48 Hours, in it he’s holding a gun and the bit I was really drawn to in the image, the bit I re-worked, is a dark hollow sleeve. What I really like to make is something really dense and there is no compromise in it so it almost feels whole, kind of like an object, so I rotated the sleeve so the repeated images inverted into each other.
Virginia Phongsathorn: I’ve made a project which is called Gremlin Series and it’s based on a piece of writing I made which is about mutability in animals, objects, things which can either change themselves or replicate themselves. So I was looking at stem cells, stealth technology in weapons development, Gremlins the movie and the idea of a gremlin in folkloric terms. I wanted in particular to focus on a piece of writing by George Didi-Huberman which focuses on the first time he saw a stick insect in a vivarium in which he is fascinated by the idea of this creature without a face which just endlessly consumes.
Eve Ackroyd: The way we’ve chosen to show my paintings is sort of grouped, I brought about 15 paintings in and we’ve edited that down to about eight, I tend to work about six or seven paintings at once, the source material of very staged photographs and cinematic pictures, with a lot of my portraits I kind of work from horror books or romanticised pictures of film lovers and things. I also work from lots of news images, that are often really similar and I kind of forget when looking at the paintings sometimes, which images are from a horror source or a news image. I think it’s about taking really low res images and making them beautiful again.
DD: What would be next for you?
Eve Ackroyd: Onto planning another show I think. Having a date to work towards.
Melissa Jordan: Short term I guess continuing to make work I’m really happy with and exhibiting it and expanding other parts of my practise like my writing.
Told, Cole Contemporary, 3-4a Little Portland Street, London W1W 7JB, 21 January - 12 March 2011