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REVIEW: ‘Getting There’ by Jo Lathwood @ Fabrica Art Gallery, Brighton, 12/07/18

The Verse’s Jake Francis attended Fabrica’s newest exhibition ‘Getting There’ by Jo Lathwood in Brighton. Here is what he has to say about it.

‘Performance’ art, it’s a divisive, and allusive genre within the visual culture; one that harbours passionate representatives on either side. The likes of Ruben Ostlund’s film, The Square (2017) fantastically lampoons this ever-popular medium. Depicting it as an act of over-generous explanations for inferior action. Art such as this can, understandably, infuriate the so-called ‘less educated’ audiences who flock to contemporary art institutions. Their candid sincerity being dashed by elites for their daring to look for actual creativity within galleries who boast innovation, idea exchange, and skill.

However, I am pleased to announce that Jo Lathwood’s exhibition ‘Getting There’, holds no such dilemma. The artist taking her work just the right amount of seriously. Since it’s commencement date on the 12th of July, Fabrica Gallery has been host to a literal journey of growth and earnest folly. Taking the form of Lathwood and co. building a meandering staircase/pathway from the gallery floor and up to the aged ceiling. This is to be exhibited in three ‘parts’. The exhibition begins with a build period of three weeks where visitors can watch the structure unfold in real time.

Since the 3rd of August, the staircase has been completed to the outlined schedule. Allowing individuals to traverse the traipsing path from its initial loop and up to the summit. The final phase (22nd of August) will see Lathwood and her team in a poised process of demolition. Offering visitors a glimpse into the sad, yet satisfying conclusion of an exhibition that very much invites you to be a part of its making.

For those who have visited Fabrica in the past, you will know that this is no easy feat. Especially when one considers the crippling reality of endless box-ticking for an artist who attempts to push art out of its neat and cushioned role of picture within a frame. Not to mention the stifling heat that the building can muster in summers such as these. Regardless of the burdening deadlines and literal/metaphorical obstacles, Lathwood has maintained her trajectory of the structures conception. Its patchwork of steps and alleyways now filled to the brim with curious travellers of all ages. But why bother? What’s the point of building such a dense and burdening project for such little gain? Honestly, what could be the point? Questions such as these would usually be met with grandiose aesthetic debate or snide pomposity, thoroughly peppered with what I like to call ‘art babble’; thankfully on this occasion, Lathwood offers no such clichés.

Fully aware of its potential to be regarded as an act of futility, Lathwood acknowledges the parallels of literal progression and the allusive life goals. With our constant striving for development, whether that be in our careers, personal life, or material gains, Lathwood’s expressions embody the questions of effort and satisfaction (or lack thereof). It is a common agreement that human nature is one that is constantly pushing for more. Whether that be measured conceptually or realistically.

‘Getting There’ invites us to reflect on this dilemma, plonking us into a mini-pilgrimage of experiencing the familiar from a different viewpoint and enjoying ourselves for what it is. Right here, right now. On meeting the artist, it is clear that she would never claim to have all the answers for her work. The actions/ideas being one of earnest self-indulgence, escapism, and philosophical reflection; traits that far too often are sidelined for abstract motifs.

On the whole, ‘Getting There’ is one of those rare exhibitions that inhabits the intoxicating grey area between age-old wisdom and adolescent tom-foolery. Feeling somewhat like a life-size game of ‘Snakes and Ladders’, the exhibition eloquently puts ‘purpose’ in the spotlight. Funnelling its players into a dialogue of ‘pointless’ movement, backtracking and conclusions. Although overlooked and deemed childish, the chance and interactions involved in games such as these embody the very nature of human experience; of triumph, strife, and perseverance. ‘Getting There’ provides us with these opportunities; perhaps we should all dabble a bit more in the senseless for a change.

‘Getting There’ is hosted at Fabrica Contemporary Art Gallery until the 28th of August. The structure will be accessible till Sunday the 19th, with the deconstruction beginning on Wednesday the 22nd.

For more information on opening times and the wide variety of events associated with the exhibition, please visit: https://www.fabrica.org.uk/events

You can also watch the live stream of the exhibition on Fabrica’s website – available at:  https://www.fabrica.org.uk/getting-there

All images in this article belong to Fabrica.

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