17 April – 14 June 1998
Graham Fagen's work revolves around the way contemporary identity, and its associated myths and fictions, can be expressed and interrogated. Fagen has developed a particular vocabulary, through the combination of sculpture and language, with which he explores the matrix of personal and cultural influences that impinge on the individual.
Fagen’s recent work has often focused around the relationship between an object or environment, its suggested narration or meaning, and the inherent disjunction that often exists between them. In his exhibition for Matt’s gallery the artist plays with the suggestion and frustration narrative and identity. As in previous pieces, Peek-a-Jobby calls upon a setting in the everyday. Peek-a-Jobby presents a fragment of a narrative that is unexceptional in content until the last moment, appearing something like the genesis of an urban myth. The exhibition is composed of two interrelated parts: as the viewer enters the space they are handed a small booklet reminiscent of a script, that details a group of friends walking to another friend’s flat to watch videos; within the gallery a large blank wooden wall, not unlike a formal sculpture, almost cuts off the majority of the space from the viewer. The lighting suggests that the focus of the installation is behind the wall, however, once on the other side of the wall a scenario is revealed that resembles a stage or television ‘set’ of a living room.
As the viewer reads the script they become aware that the ‘set’ is a scene from the script. The set is however, unanimated, a selection of objects that are only given meaning through the accompanying narrative. The flat that the set depicts is the location of the main action of the script and of the climactic ending. After the evolution of an unexceptional narrative - of friends talking and an evening spent relaxing - the action culminates in the host performing a bizarre and obscene game to the amazement and surprise of his guests that seem unrelated to its previous context.
The reader/viewer is left suspended between the two related but disjointed locations - one physical, one textual - and between expectation and surprise. Within the matrix meaning becomes strangely fluid. Considerations of the division between the theatrical and the conceptual, and of how meaning can be created, corrupted and dismantled, are all elicited but left unresolved.
Given the conclusion of Fagen’s script the viewer may decide that the artist’s intent is to demonstrate that there is nothing more unpredictable or confounding than everyday events, and that they in turn approximate actual experience. But even as meaning seems to settle here it is again rendered unstable as the viewer is reminded by the work’s very presentation within the conventions of theatre that it is a creation of imagination and as such will always remain unreliable.
At the close of the exhibition the gallery will publish a catalogue which will document Peek-a-Jobby in the context of the artist’s previous works. Through the selection of particular works by the artist and specially written texts the publication will explore the artist’s concerns with identity and narrative, the creation and confusion of meaning, and the interrelation of sculpture and language. Graham Fagen was born in Glasgow in 1966, where he continues to live and work. This is his first one person exhibition in London.