Other-Directed – Alice Channer

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Alice Channer — Other-Directed
11th June — 16th July 2011
Opening reception 10th June, 6 – 8 pm

Dress has never been at all a straightforward business: so much subterranean interest and complex feeling attaches to it. As a topic, it is popular because it is dangerous – it has a flowery head but deep roots in the passions.

Elizabeth Bowen

Other-Directed is the first solo show by Alice Channer at BolteLang. The exhibition consists of a large scale drawing on paper, tall steel sculptures and objects which elude these distinct categories, such as elongated marble cuffs extending to the ceiling through tall aluminium sleeves, oval forms hanging like stretched and oversized bangles on dowel rods, or bolts of accordion-pleated, digitally printed fabric that sit on steel shelves with retaining edges following hand-drawn lines.

Garments are the starting point for Channer’s works; she employs clothing’s multiple roles as protection, ornament, form, technology and historical document. Her recent steel sculptures, for example, are human in size and reflect the bodies of viewers; their edges are not straight but limn the shapes of dressmaking patterns. Drawings reproduce amphibian skin patterns from fabrics that are several steps away from the creature imitated. And reproduction is yet again considered in works formed by scrunching paper and rolling her arms and legs along it with colour to manifest a rudimentary pattern. On closer inspection the looped forms dangling from the wooden rods reveal themselves to be the waistbands and hems of Mini, Midi and Maxi skirts, cut off and preserved by casting, the elasticated belts and fastenings petrified, their new colours preserved by powder coating.

Channer has borrowed the exhibition title from sociologist David Riesman’s work The Lonely Crowd of 1950, in which Riesman identifies a new form of society made up of individuals not led by intrinsic values or goals, but living lives attuned and in response to their peers, colleagues and the mass media. Riesman’s new topos conjures the spectre of a rudderless society, cut adrift from meaningful values and at the mercy of base envy and marketing, but Channer appropriates the term and finds ambiguity within it. Not only does she challenge the derision heaped on consumption, but ‘other-directed’ comes equally to mean an invitation into the openings of her works.

Clothing is in immediate contact with the body yet thrives on a symbolic level. By using it as subject matter Channer can be both involved and stand at a critical distance, balancing pragmatism and an intimate sensory response. This is an exhibition of sculptural works and a celebration of cyclical movements, be they over generations, fashions or through the works’ own mutability.

Aoife Rosenmeyer

Alice Channer has a BA Fine Art from Goldsmiths College, London, and an MA Sculpture from the Royal College of Art, London. Solo exhibitions include: Body Conscious, The Approach, London 2011; Inhale, Exhale, Mackintosh Gallery (as part of the Glasgow International), Glasgow, 2010; Worn-work, The Approach, London, 2009; and That Make Up Some Things, Associates, London, 2007. Group exhibitions include: 2011: Young London, V22, (London); Lisa Cooley, (New York); The Hole, (London); 2010: Unto This Last, Raven Row, (London); BolteLang, (Zurich); Modern Art (London); 2009: Boule To Braid (curated by Richard Wentworth), Lisson Gallery, (London); Quiet Revolution, Hayward Gallery Touring Show, (UK); Limoncello, (London); 2008: Strange Solution, Art Now, Tate Britain, (London); The Approach, (London); M25 Around London, CCA Andtrax, (Mallorca); 2007: Tanya Bonakdar, (New York). Her work has been featured in Artforum, ArtReview, Frieze, Flash Art, Modern Painters, Guardian Unlimited, The London Evening Standard and Time Out London.

Exhibition documentation