Advertisement

Charlotte Prodger

Hollybush Gardens, London, UK

Currently on show in Southampton City Art Gallery, on the last leg of its tour with the British Art Show, Charlotte Prodger’s Max The English Bull Terrier Trancing (2014) is a sculpturally emphasized Hantarex monitor showing internet-culled footage of the eponymous dog’s curious response to being scratched on the back with foliage. The work is typical of how the Glasgow-based artist foregrounds found strangeness through analogously fetishized modes of presentation.

The 32-minute, single-screen film BRIDGIT (2016) – the sole work in Prodger’s latest show – is, however, more of a piece with last year’s Stoneymollan Trail, an hour of clips compiled from footage and voice-overs recorded over two decades, which form a notebook of sorts. The ‘permanently filming’ tradition of Michel Auder and Jonas Mekas is updated for the ubiquity now routinely achieved via the iPhone. The scenes in BRIDGIT last, at most, four minutes – the phone’s memory limit: the medium is, as usual, fully exposed in Prodger’s message.

charlotte_prodger_bridgit_2016_installation_view_hollybush_gardens_london._courtesy_hollybush_gardens_london_photograph_andy_keate

Charlotte Prodger, BRIDGIT, 2016, installation view, Hollybush Gardens, London. Courtesy: Hollybush Gardens, London; photograph: Andy Keate

Charlotte Prodger, BRIDGIT, 2016, installation view, Hollybush Gardens, London. Courtesy: Hollybush Gardens, London; photograph: Andy Keate

What we see is a series of near-static shots selected from a year’s recording of the countryside near Aberdeen – fields, hills, the passage of a ferry, then a train – and internal shots of Prodger’s home, in which her cat seems to exhibit its own trance behaviour in response to a naked light bulb.

What we hear is the sound as recorded by the iPhone – including music inside the flat, birds and machines outside – overlaid with Prodger’s narration. The voice-over mostly consists of personal anecdotes, some of them explicitly flagged as diary entries. The artist talks of her teenage years in Aberdeenshire – taking acid tabs, working as a care assistant, coming out – and of her conversation with the anaesthetist prior to a recent operation, wryly recollecting occasions on which she has been mistaken for a man or for her girlfriend’s mother. One dialogist compounds the offence by assuming that Prodger will feel awkward about her sexuality: ‘Don’t have a problem with that, my son’s gay.’ Cut into this, with no change of tone, is an extract from The Modern Antiquarian (1998) by the hallucinogenically inclined pop star and standing stone obsessive Julian Cope, as well as quotes from Allucquére Rosanne Stone, who wrote presciently in the mid-1990s on technology as prosthesis – which is exactly how Prodger has come to regard the iPhone, so natural a part does it play in her life.

charlotte_prodger_bridgit_2016_video_still._courtesy_the_artist_and_hollybush_gardens_london

Charlotte Prodger, BRIDGIT, 2016, video still. Courtesy: the artist and Hollybush Gardens, London

Charlotte Prodger, BRIDGIT, 2016, video still. Courtesy: the artist and Hollybush Gardens, London

This material follows multiple chronologies: pre-historical, seasonal, transportational, biographical, technological. The anaesthetist, germanely, explains how people may have no idea what time has passed when they come round: ‘Some don’t know they’ve been to sleep, “When’s the operation,” they say, thinking it’s before instead of after.’

In effect, the film is a collage on four levels: the surface calm of the visuals, the atmospheres generated by the ambient sounds, the themes explored by the writers cited and Prodger’s own notations. Though the latter are casual enough to seem unconnected, they speak to an underlying theme: how identity shifts with time. The implication, perhaps, is that we should remain open to change in ourselves and avoid fixing the identities of others. As Cope explains: we can’t know which of many possible names contemporaries used for the Neolithic goddess of the film’s title – Bridgit / Bridget / Brizo / Bree. Likewise, Stone states that names ‘weren’t codified as personal descriptors until the Domesday book. The idea behind taking a name appropriate to one’s current circumstances was that identity wasn’t static’. That’s the very opposite of artists cranking out market-ready iterations in an expected style. As this latest, impressive expansion of her practice indicates, there seems no danger of Prodger being constrained by a fixed identity, however much she may ruminate on how she came to be who she is. 

Paul Carey-Kent is a writer and curator based in Southampton, UK.

Issue 184

First published in Issue 184

Jan - Feb 2017
Advertisement

Most Read

Why does the ‘men’s rights’ guru to the alt-right surround himself with Soviet-era memorabilia, which he doesn’t even...
Alongside a centuries-old collection of Old Masters, Delftware and Chinoiserie, the Devonshires continue to commission...
In a Victorian-era baths in Glasgow, the artist stages her largest performance project to date, featuring a 24-woman...
In further news: UK class gap impacting young people’s engagement with the arts; Uffizi goes digital; British Museum...
Italian politicians want to censor the artist’s poster for a sailing event, which reads ‘We’re all in the same boat’
A newly-published collection of the artist’s journals allows silenced voices to speak
The arrest of the photojournalist for ‘provocative comments’ over Dhaka protests makes clear that personal liberty...
The auction house insists that there is a broad scholarly consensus that the record-breaking artwork be attributed to...
‘We need more advocates across gender lines and emphatic leaders in museums and galleries to create inclusive,...
In further news: artists rally behind detained photographer Shahidul Alam; crisis talks at London museums following...
Criticism of the show at the Hungarian National Gallery in Budapest comes alongside a nationalist reshaping of the...
A retrospective at Munich’s Museum Brandhorst charts the artist’s career from the 1980s to the present, from ‘fem-trash...
At the National Theatre of Wales, a performance alive with wild, tactile descriptions compels comparison between the...
There are perils in deploying bigotry to score political points, but meanings also shift from West to East
‘It’s ridiculous. It’s Picasso’: social media platform to review nudity policy after blocking Montreal Museum of Fine...
The first public exhibition of a 15th-century altar-hanging prompts the question: who made it?
Poland’s feminist ‘Bison Ladies’ storm the Japanese artist’s Warsaw exhibition in solidarity with longtime model Kaori’...
An art historian and leading Leonardo expert has cast doubt on the painting’s attribution
How will the Black Panther writer, known for his landmark critical assessments of race, take on the quintessential...
The dissident artist has posted a series of videos on Instagram documenting diggers demolishing his studio in the...
In further news: artists for Planned Parenthood; US court rules on Nazi-looted Cranachs; Munich’s Haus der Kunst...
A mother’s death, a father’s disinterest: Jean Frémon’s semi-factual biography of the artist captures a life beyond...
Jostling with its loud festival neighbours, the UK’s best attended annual visual art festival conducts a polyphonic...
It’s not clear who destroyed the project – part of the Liverpool Biennial – which names those who have died trying to...
Dating from 1949 to the early 1960s, the works which grace the stately home feel comfortable in the ostentatious pomp...
Nods to the game in World Cup celebrations show how dance has gone viral – but unwittingly instrumentalized for...

On View

Latest Magazines

frieze magazine

April 2018

frieze magazine

May 2018

frieze magazine

June - August 2018