Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Jungle Jam/The Black Moss

Chelpa Ferro and Juneau/projects
FACT Centre, Wood Street
8th December 2006 - 21st January 2007 (Tue-Sun 11am-6pm)

If you are reading this between 8th December 2006 and 21st January 2007, on any day Tuesday to Sunday after 11am and before 6pm, there is huge environmental damage being done at Gallery 1 of the FACT centre.

There, a computer is instructing motors to spin round in various patterns, whacking plastic bags against the walls. This is ‘Jungle Jam’ – the work of Brazilian artists Chelpa Ferro (‘old money’) – so this must be art. The bags – which are just like those you could buy in Home and Bargain – came all the way from South America, by plane presumably. The computer and motors create carbon emissions far in excess of any artistic merits. "Different bags make different sounds”, explained one of the trio. Quite.

In Gallery 2, Juneau/projects’ ‘The Black Moss’ is the far more interesting, and much less harmful to the planet 'I’m Going To Antler You’. Unless those animal skin rugs are real, in which case it’s a close run thing. At least the music – which comes from the hand-painted drum kit – is only triggered by someone being near enough to hear it. The songs come from young bands Ebony Angels and The Ambers, who were formed in two Birmingham youth groups. They designed their own logos and costumes, and the room has a nice kind of playfulness about it.

Then there’s this kind of retro eighties computer game called ‘Beneath the floorboards of the forest, empty space’, where a Stephen Hawking-alike voice reads poetic descriptions of nature and the gallerygoer’s mission – should they choose to accept it – is to escape from a forest by selecting north, south, east, west and other options like washing your face. In my twenty-five minutes I angered a blackbird and was stung by the ‘enormous barb’ of the same hornet on three separate occasions. Then I have to admit I gave up. An attendant told me it can be done, in about two days.

But the best part of this exhibition – perhaps the best part of any exhibition I’ve seen this year – is the misleadingly titled ‘Instincts are misleading (you shouldn't think what you're feeling)’. The Media Lounge has been made over into a kind of grotto, where mellow music plays, and visitors can make their own creatures out of pipe cleaners, glue and various bits and pieces. These creations are then photographed and placed on a ‘shrine’ to nature, and each creator takes home a complimentary cd. If the capital of culture year was that and nothing else, I’d be made up.
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