Open Frequency 2008: Miranda Blennerhassett selected by Jenny Brownrigg
Miranda Blennerhassett, Platforma, 2006. Wood, emulsion, acrylic paint. 2.5m x 0.75m x 2.5m
Jenny Brownrigg profiles the work of Miranda Blennerhassett
Miranda Blennerhassett's ongoing series of installations and wall paintings engage with architecture's details, constructs and ideology.
Earlier installations such as 'Market' (2005) and 'Generator Projects' (2005) saw Blennerhassett working directly onto the walls and floors of artist-run galleries and studio spaces. In such reclaimed spaces the terra nova of the white cube inhabits the shells of defunct warehouses, industrial units and mills. Her works in this period drew attention back to the invisible hand of either the original or host architect, bringing into relief with flat monochrome painted areas, the architect's initial decisions such as the height of windows, the positioning of doors, the presence of cornicing.
Blennerhassett's previous work also explores the points where society, nature and architecture meet. The town planner's choice of a green space in a city or the householder's placement of a plant in their domestic environment becomes an -albeit controlled- signifier of nature. In This Year's Models (Embassy Gallery, Edinburgh, 2005) two leafy houseplants were placed in the corner of the gallery, facing one another as if in conversation, each on it's own folding chair. The humble domestic nature of this tete-a-tete of modern-day living was thrown into relief by the plants' painted shadows, their wild alter-egos cast onto the walls, appearing straight from the sublime.
The dichotomies of interior/exterior, reality/ideology and two-dimensional/three-dimensional structures have continued to be explored by the artist. Drawn to the Supercity ambitions of Modernist architects Le Corbusier and Oscar Niemeyer, who set about to bring utopia to everyday living, Blennerhassett's 2008 series of wall paintings refine and reduce architectural detail into monochrome units starkly set against flat backdrops of colour1. These planes of colour point to external environments. The infinite blue of 'Farnsworth' indicates expanses of sublime space; the shadows and planes of 'Wasps 2' are delineated and created by a non-existent sun.
Blennerhassett states that 'The use of colour in my work is a form of shorthand; it acts as a signifier for different forms of spatial experience. The red represents a manufactured, industrialised environment that is dependent on technology, pointing towards the contemporary urban landscape. The yellow refers more to an idealistic utopian point of view- a dreaming of civic perfection. When using a large plane of colour I am generally seeing it as a window/exit point from the containment of the gallery walls to reference a spatial realm beyond the present architecture.'2
Blennerhassett's work aims to reconcile the innate objective logic of architecture with the subjective reading of the user, bringing it closer to the actual reality of the failed modernist experiment.
1. Fishman,R. (1978) Urban Utopias in the Twentieth Century - Ebenezer Howard, Frank Lloyd Wright and Le Corbusier, Basic Books.
2. From artist's statement, 2008.
Jenny Brownrigg, September 2008
Miranda Blennerhassett (b.1972, Oban) graduated in 2004 with BA (Hons) Fine Art from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, Dundee. Between 2005 - 2007 she was a Committee member of artist group Generator Projects, Dundee. Selected group shows include: Talbot Rice offsite project, Edinburgh (2009), Miranda Blennerhassett Kevin McPhee, Limousine Bull, Aberdeen (2007); Nostalgic Erotiques, Out of the Blue, Edinburgh(2007); In Residence, Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh (2007); Platforma, Cooper Gallery, Dundee (2006); 2nd International Biennial of Young Artists, Bucharest, Romania (2006); Greater than Ever, Dick Institute, Kilmarnock (2006); Magazine, Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop, Edinburgh (2006); Ganghut Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia (2006); They Had Four Years, Generator, Dundee (2005); This Year's Models, Embassy Gallery, Edinburgh (2005); A Nation Turns its Lonely Eyes to You, Market Gallery, Glasgow (2005). Residencies include Oberpfälzer KünstlerHaus, Schwandorf, Germany (2008), Royal Scottish Academy Hospitalfield Residency (2006) and Scottish Sculpture Workshop (2004)
About Jenny Brownrigg
Jenny Brownrigg is University of Dundee Exhibitions Department Curator at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design (2002-). She graduated with BA (hons) Fine Art from Glasgow School of Art (1990-4) and MFA at DJCAD (1996). Previous posts have included; Gallery Co-ordinator at Changing Room Gallery, Stirling (1998-9), and Project Officer at Grizedale Arts, Cumbria (2000-2).
As an artist Jenny undertook several residencies including the Scottish Arts Council Pier Arts Centre Fellowship, Orkney (1998). She is also the author of two publications; 'Nature Centre', the result of a writer's residency with Grizedale Arts, and 'Romantic Vanguard', a screenplay which was developed during her artist residency with Royston Road Project in Blackhill, Glasgow (2002). She writes articles for magazines including Untitled and The Map. She was co-curator of The Young Artists' Biennial Absent Without Leave (AWOL) , 2nd Edition, Bucharest, Romania, Oct 14 - Nov 16 2006.
Open Frequency keeps you in touch with new developments in contemporary art practice from across the UK. The artists are selected and profiled by leading curators, artists and writers, presenting the work of artists to watch out for over the coming year. Open Frequency represents a forward-looking glance today of the artists who will be setting the agenda tomorrow.