Simon Patterson – Safari: an exhibition as expedition
Safari: an exhibition as expedition
De La Warr Pavillion
20 May – 3 September 2017
People often make sense of the world through language, maps, museological classifications, military codes and routines: Simon Patterson manipulates these mechanisms, shifting our perceptions as a result. Safari combines works from the last twenty-five years of Patterson’s career with two new commissions.
This exhibition takes the visitor on a mini safari throughout the De La Warr Pavilion where they will encounter, interspersed with Patterson’s own work, objects drawn from Bexhill and Hastings Museums.
These objects include artefacts collected by Hastings resident Annie Brassey (1839-87), an English writer and traveller who amassed an extensive collection of ethnographic objects during her voyages around the world on her steam yacht, the Sunbeam. Patterson’s display will also include several rather more questionable objects, such as those relating to the notorious Piltdown man, Grey Owl and other local fraudsters, charlatans and fantasists.
For the De La Warr Pavilion, and working in conjunction with the Bexhill-on-Sea Sailing Club, the artist will stage a temporary public spectacle entitled Seascape. On the occasion of the exhibition’s opening, the Club will stage a ‘sea-battle’ during which coloured smoke grenades will be set off: a daytime display that references the way that artists were commissioned in the 17th and 18th Centuries to design spectacles, including mock battles and firework displays, for their patrons. This will be the fifth incarnation of ‘Landskip’, originally commission for ‘Art in the Park’ at Compton Verney, Warwickshire (curated by Locus+), 2000.
Escape Routine (2002) is the first work visitors encounter on entering the gallery. In this video, flight attendants alternately demonstrate in-flight safety procedures and feats of escapology, whilst a smooth voiceover reads extracts from Harry Houdini’s writings on magic and stagecraft. By combining these unlikely acts, the artist opens up a range of alternative meanings.
Meanwhile, Manned Flight (1999-), a man-lifting kite inscribed with the name of the first person in space, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, will be positioned in the De La Warr Pavilion’s iconic North Staircase, visible from outside. An itinerant work, Manned Flight (1999-) has been displayed around the world, with the aim that it will ultimately reach the site outside Moscow where Gagarin was killed in a routine training flight.