The gallery is pleased to announce [sic] – the second solo exhibition with the London-based artist Jamie Shovlin.
Jamie Shovlin manipulates the ubiquitous modes of contemporary media in an exploration of how cultural and historical events come to be seen as factual and how witnesses become questionable sources of information. While previous projects involved exhibiting ephemera based on entirely fabricated events and a display of the archived memorabilia of a seminal yet non-existent musical group, Shovlin’s recent work focuses on uniting issues from the world of international politics with material from his own family. Within this content, Shovlin investigates notions of inheritance and legacy as derived from the family as well as from surrogate families such as friends, military and even national lineage. Using the newspaper as his primary source material for the works in [sic], Shovlin calls particular attention to circumstances where bad habits are propagated and vicious cycles of flawed learning are continued.
In “Pan and Scan,” Shovlin presents a digitally animated video following news coverage of the rape of an Iraqi girl and the murder of her and her family perpetrated by US soldiers in 2006, known as the Mahmudiyah killings. The video is constructed from photocopies of newspaper microfilm reels and reveals constantly shifting pieces of information alongside Shovlin’s heavily treated audio accompaniment. Sourcing material from three newspapers (The New York Times, the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times), “Pan and Scan” follows the reporting of the crime from first to final appearance in each publication. As the event is mediated many times over though mechanical and digital means, the artist’s hand, alongside the various authorial hands involved in each newspaper, contributes to the final presentation of the story through the video. Paralleling the way fast-paced, conglomerated news media is distributed and processed, Shovlin’s attempt at presenting a comprehensive account of the tragic incident becomes untenable.
Similarly sourced from newspaper microfilm articles related to the Mahmudiyah killings, the exhibition features drawings that document the exposure of the crime. These are displayed alongside paintings made from pigment and gesso that explore the indigenous language of the microfilm archive. “Start (Los Angeles Times)” and “End (Washington Post)”, describe the limits of the microfilm as an archival form while “Imperfect in Original (Tehran Times)” questions the viability of analogue archiving in the digital age. Shovlin creates each work by forensically dusting dry pigment and chalk onto a rough linen support, creating an effect in which the image dissolves as the viewer gets closer, offering an analogy to the obfuscation of information that often follows inflammatory political moments.
“…are you stowin’ away the time?“ presents interviews with artist’s divorced parents where each reflect on their once shared record collection. The video foregrounds both the domestic and political works in the exhibition with the conflated account of this dissolved history disclosing the speakers’ inadequacy as valid sources of information whilst proposing a more compassionate methodology of documenting history. The drawing “Learning to Die,” re-presents magazine content about the tragic Von Erich family, in which each of the family’s six sons followed their father, Fritz, in to the wrestling ring. Of the six, five died prematurely and three by career-related suicides. As with other works in the exhibition, Shovlin utilizes the iconography inherent in the media source, here emphasizing loss and estrangement in the compositional divide between father and sons through an editorial break in the magazine layout and a tear in the page. In [sic], the contrast between the subjectivity of the artist’s hand and the security of archival documents prompts viewers to explore the vulnerable space that exists within the historical accounts, both political and personal, that we read, hear, and learn from everyday.
Jamie Shovlin (b. 1978, London, UK) lives and works in London, UK. He received a MA from the Royal College of Art and a BA from Loughborough University School of Art & Design. Shovlin’s works can be found in collections such as Hiscox Collection, London, UK; The Manchester Museum, Manchester, UK; Davids Roberts Foundation, London, UK; Saatchi Gallery, London, UK; and Elspeth and Imogen Turner Collection, London, UK. He has been featured in exhibitions at Tillie House Museum and Art Gallery, Carlisle, Cumbria, UK; Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Roma, Rome, IT; Parallel Event Istanbul Biennial, Istanbul, TK; Lewis Glucksman Gallery, Cork, IE; and Artist’s Space, New York, NY.