Event/Opening: 12 March 2004, 6 – 9pm.
A window show at Space Station Sixty-Five. Taxidermy in the expanded field of art. A window show at Space Station Sixty-Five.
Cathie Pilkington’s work is a kind of taxidermy in the expanded field of art. It is a taxidermy of discarded, outmoded objects rather than carcasses. There is no material or object so utterly dead and dilapidated that it cannot be “sat up”, stitched up and reanimated. Pilkington’s work is full of these cast offs. The charity shop, jumble sale things that are spliced into her otherwise emphatically sculptural practice have been liberated from the commodity rat race, they have drifted into the demimonde of the car boot and trestle table before being subject to Pilkington’s peculiar version of detournement. There is something “outsider-ish” about her use of the sophisticated strategy of appropriation. Never has the assisted ready-made been so intensively hand-made, so affectionately homespun.
The presentational mode of Pilkington’s work is always the tableau. This is the governing mode even when the figure/objects are simple and singular. The tableau is a popular and sentimental mode. Its aim is to involve the beholder as directly as possible with a presence that is vivid and theatrical. But the tableau’s promise of involvement can never be fulfilled. There is an unbridgeable gap between the real gallery space and the virtual space of the frozen drama, and in the end it is the beholders estrangement from the scene represented that gets the upper hand. It is this simultaneous involvement and estrangement that is at the kapok heart of Pilkington’s “taxidermy”. Her use of almost familiar but displaced domestic materials amplifies the tableau effect: the scenes are both homely and “unheimlich”.
Since leaving the RCA in 1997, Cathie has exhibited internationally, including at The Economist Plaza, London; Model Arts Centre; Sligo, Ireland; Graves Art Gallery; Sheffield; DomoBaal Contemporary Art; London, Battersea Pump House, London; Manchester City Art Gallery; Gasworks, London; Gallery Beaumont, Luxembourg and The Tannery, London. In 2004 she has solo shows with Sandra Le Marchant, White Lodge, Bath and at The Apartment, Athens, Greece.