Haunch of Venison, London

6 Haunch of Venison Yard and Bruton Street
GB-W1K 6ES London

plan route show map

artist / participant

press release

British artist Mat Collishaw is to present a vibrant new body of work including a large-scale working zoetrope and room-sized installation involving projections onto phosphorescent paint, for his first solo exhibition at Haunch of Venison London. The exhibition reflects Collishaw’s longstanding interest in blurring the distinction between representation and reality. In the installation entitled Shooting Stars, historical photographs of Victorian child prostitutes in sexually alluring poses are projected onto the gallery walls alongside similar images restaged by the artist. Fired onto phosphorescent paint, these disturbing portraits flare briefly before slowly fading from view. The ghostly after-images suggest the fragile duration of the children’s short-lived existences, their demise due in many cases to the prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases during the Victorian era. “The girls in these images exist only in these stark photographic records,” comments Collishaw: “For many, their lives were not much longer than the fleeting exposure of the camera shutter.” A zoetrope – a cylindrical device that produces the illusion of action from a rapid succession of static images – will be installed on the top floor of the gallery. Called Animal Night Life, the two-metre wide sculpture features one hundred and eighty mythological figures, including a minotaur, the Three Graces, a she-wolf and a cherub, captured in various stages of motion. As the zoetrope begins to spin, the forms of the figurines blur, before becoming magically animated by a strobe light which transforms them into coherent, moving characters. Animal Night Life represents Collishaw’s reflection on the condition of looking at things. Against the eerie twilight created by the mechanized artifice of the zoetrope, the characters appear to take a perverse interest in each other while we peer curiously at them. These two major new works are complemented by a series of lightboxes whose ultra-violet tubes illuminate images which have been appropriated from the infamous Cottingley Fairy photographs. On the top floor of the gallery, an animated video of Arnold Böcklin’s The Island of the Dead depicts the unsettling movement of light and shade across the island during a 24-hour period.

Mat Collishaw
Shooting Stars