Gianni Manhattan presents Procrustean Flatulence, Sebastian Jefford’s first solo show with the gallery. Accompanying the exhibition is the second publication released by Gianni Manhattan Publishing, Sebastian Jefford’s short story – In the City. This publication is dedicated to the memory of Mary Maclean.
“In The City, there was a law that dominated its entire existence. If a citizen needed to enter any dwelling or building, whether for work or any other reason, be it personal or private, the citizen was required to witness its entire construction, beginning to end.
And if they were born after the construction of said building, or had missed it due to the fact you were witnessing a different (re)construction that day, the citizen would have to make an application to the council to have it demolished, or rather, taken apart. If approved they were then required to witness the entire process of its reconstruction before they could enter that building. Once observed from top to bottom (which was obviously an incredibly time-consuming activity), the citizen could visit that building as many times as they needed to, for the rest of their life.”
– Excerpt from “In The City”
The activity of reconstruction or reenactment is a precarious escape vehicle from the present – while conventionally used as a means to glean knowledge and intimacy with the past, Jefford is more concerned with the potential for fiction, misinterpretation and red herrings. Activity is ﬁctionalised, desire is literalised, and physicality plasticised until the seduction of a mouldy veneer encompasses the whole of the ‘world’.
Suspended from the ceiling is a flat screen, showing “In the City”, a video work that narrates a piece of writing by Jefford. This work depicts the lives of the inhabitants of a city that are set in a dystopian world governed by building regulations and laws. In the story the son of a minister rebels and chooses to inhabit the cavity between two walls. A space allowed for speculation, the potential to meander from the path, to not know. This act of rebellion by the son acts as a catalyst of the deconstruction of the government and psychologically torments the viewer of the installation to question the non-place that they inhabit.
Occupying the walls are bulbous ‘clay’ tablets, representations of mouths with rotten teeth, sat in the curves of piped structures. Once they were connected to a system – yet it seems they have been severed, decommissioned. These reconstructions are mouths that do not speak but chew and masticate for digestion. Carnivorous ingestors, to grind down time into more a digestible pulp. Jefford’s mute objects become co-opted into a confusion of individual and collective identities and narratives. Histories are built into time, and events are stretched, compressed, and snubbed to fit the needs of the day, in a world that composes and recomposes itself constantly in an endless process of dissatisfaction.
Sebastian Jefford: born 1991 in Swansea, Wales; lives and works in London. Recent and upcoming exhibitions include V22 Young London, London (Spring 2018); The Sleeping Procession, CASS Sculpture Foundation; RA Schools Degree Show, Royal Academy of Arts, London (2017); A Rose Is Without a ‘Why’. It Blooms Because It Blooms, curated by Sean Steadman, Carl Freedman, London; Modest Villa Immense Versailles, co-curated with Rebecca Ackroyd, Kinman, London; Bloomberg New Contemporaries, The Bluecoat, Liverpool + ICA (2016), London; Qwaypurlake, Hauser & Wirth Somerset, Bruton (2015)