Nature Inspires Double Bill At Camden Arts Centre

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 36 months ago
Nature Inspires Double Bill At Camden Arts Centre ★★☆☆☆ 2

We've reviewed two exhibitions currently on at Camden Arts Centre.

A small selection of the hundreds of objects on display at Back to the Fields.

Back to the Fields

Londonist Rating ★★★☆☆

A clock outside the exhibition only has 10 numbers on it — a nod to France after the Revolution, when it briefly shifted to a decimal time system. The French Republic also created a new calendar that broke away from the months we're familiar with, instead basing the year on the natural world.

Ruth Ewan has revived this short-lived system, replicating the calendar at Camden Arts Centre. A gallery is filled with 365 items, each representing a day of the year. These include farming equipment, trees, plants, feathers that are symbolic of birds, and even live animals such as crickets and crayfish.

Ewan feels this is an example of art working with the state, a particularly prescient issue considering the arts budgets being slashed today. That said, we weren't convinced by this ideal, as the calendar feels more like a return to the agricultural roots of the country than a specific leaning towards art.

Nonetheless it's an impressive and engrossing collection of items, making for an enjoyable display to be explored.

A still frame from one of the slow motion videos.

Papagaio

Londonist Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Filmmakers Joao Maria Gusmao and Pedro Paiva have teamed up to create a series of works also based around the theme of nature — the idea presumably being that Papagio and Back to the Fields complement each other.

All the films here are shown in slow motion: a parrot flapping its wings appears to take on greater importance, while the image of chimpanzees grabbing vegetables out of a bucket similarly moonlights as a vital moment. The artists have also included a film based on a voodoo ritual, shot in Sao Tome and Principe, where intoxicated participants dance and fall into trances.

Aside from this this slightly cheap trick of slowing everything down to make it appear 'arty', individual works never quite come together to deliver the powerful narrative the artists are no doubt trying to land.

Ruth Ewan: Back to the Fields and Joao Maria Gusmao + Pedro Paiva: Papagaio are on at Camden Arts Centre, Arkwright Road NW3 6DG until 29 March. Entrance is free.

Last Updated 06 February 2015