Wish You Were Here
Matt Johnstone/Dan Shaw-Town
May - June 2007
RUN are pleased to present, in association with the Olympian Arts Trust, new works from Matt Johnstone and Dan Shaw-Town. Over two locations they will exhibit drawings and sculpture in the main gallery and performative installations within a nearby empty block. Previously a collaborative partnership, these two artists have recently begun a more singular approach to art making and separately address issues of the artist/human existence and its banal and often fruitless pursuit of fulfillment and completion.
Matt Johnstone is interested in exploring the potential of artworks to function in a performative sense and as such, the inherent modes of interactivity and participation are paramount in his thinking. He is also interested in trying to address the notion of gestures which surround his practice. Whether in the production of a work or perhaps in the invitation to interact, these gestures are key to understanding current relationships we have to objects and the technologies they employ, inside and outside of an art context. The work also tries to focus on the idea of the 'artist-as-performer' who's aim is often to 'climax' in a moment of activation, whereby the object itself becomes re-contextualised, perhaps as a prop in the performance or as an artwork in its own right, having been 'touched' by the artist.
Dan Shaw-Town creates work that questions the inherent values of the art-making process. In approaching conventional systems as obstacles that are open to confusion, he emphasizes the importance of process and doing rather than the final product, The use of ubiquitous and activity related material in his sculptures speak of a post-relational environment, where non-functionality is implied, but not absolute and narrative is left to the responsibility of the viewer. His live performance work presents itself in the language of a 'thing done' - a task performed, although a finishing point is rarely achieved and failure is inevitably the end result. By making himself the victim of his own personal challenges he blurs positions of creation and exhibition by creating futile and obscure situations that address the art action as a manufacturing process.
Performance artists such as these, in the role of performers, surely have in mind the notions of bringing art to the people, allowing viewers to participate and engaging in the artist-viewer relationship. In the case of Matt Johnstone and Dan Shaw-Town the questions hanging over their work, and indeed the waste left in the wake of a performance, are predominantly concerned with the effects upon the viewer in watching an artist at work and the intrinsic potential to be touched as a result of witnessing pure artistic output.
Matt Johnstone and Dan Shaw-Town are currently studying for an MA in Fine Art at Goldsmiths, university of London