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Oliver Beer

15 March — 4 June 2017

British artist Oliver Beer returns to Ikon for the first time since 2011 to provide audiences with an opportunity to encounter his new and recent work within the context of a judicious survey.

Oliver Beer interrogates at once the physical properties and emotional value of objects, with a paradoxical emphasis on emptiness and absence. The notion of “negative space” is key – whereby a balance is struck between occupied and unoccupied space – so the viewer is confronted with what is, literally, not there. A number of recent works have involved a selection of vessels – ceramic and otherwise – to create idiosyncratic musical instruments as installations. The empty space within each vessel has its own musical note at which it resonates, and so contributes to a symphony of natural frequencies, with microphones feeding back into looping sound systems.

A new work, commissioned by Ikon, Reanimation (I Wanna Be Like You), 2017 is a “re-animation” of a scene from Walt Disney’s Jungle Book. 2,500 local school children, from early years until the age of 13, were invited to join in, drawing film stills in order of their age, so that the animation becomes increasingly “grown up”. Frame by frame the scribbles of infants progressively give way to the increasingly lucid drawings of children and then adolescents. Thus Oliver Beer touches on the inexorable passage of time – through a time-based medium – in order to encourage a consideration of what it is like to be human.

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