The duo-exhibition from Paul Abbott and Alex Roberts, What Hat am I Wearing Today, is certainly thought-provoking. On for 20 days in South London gallery Moca, this multi-media art installation explores the non-stable identity-reality of our daily experience of living and working in the second decade of the 21st century.
But what does that actually mean? In terms of the artwork – we can’t tell you. Mainly because both Roberts and Abbott don’t tell stories so much as show experiences. They themselves race around trying to hold down multiple jobs to fund their lives as artists: Abbott teaching English as a foreign language; and Roberts studying and teaching in Bath whilst creating and living in Berlin. They understand only too well what it is to be between two places, both literally and figuratively, and have decided to make that their work. Or rather, to make work out of their lives – the transit between each place.
The result is an art installation that contains images of the everyday and passed-by spectacle alongside fragments of intimate disclosure. Examples include the slogan on an ice cream van, “often licked, never beaten”; a tattooed commuter section caught in the glass of the S-Bahn; someone singing in the shower; a London resident’s narration of his dreams and strategy for survival.
Abbott’s video/sculptural practice and Roberts’s painting practice are pushed into opposition and cohesion. Working independently, yet collaboratively, they aim to explore the possible pathways of contrast and cohesion that can be inferred from their collective installation and look at how authorship may be frustrated and how narrative threads may be made and broken; how blind alleys may corrupt a message; how a mirror can be held to the theatrical space of the installation – its ‘performativity’ – implicating the spectator in the conversation. Their work and further information about their practice can be viewed via www.alexroberts.com and www.pabbott.net.
Also see link to gallery here: http://www.mocalondon.co.uk/what-hat-am-i-wearing-today.html