James Coleman, Untitled (2011-15)Posted: June 17, 2016
It surprises me that the artist filmed this himself. It looks like a degraded home movie, out of focus, a bit over exposed. But no, it’s an afternoon of fieldwork into a four second loop.
Indeed, it is a loop within a circular loop. The carousel offers what Nietzsche might have recognised as an eternal return, a moment worth affirming from now until the end of time.
Funfair rides do slow down, eventually. But this glitchy slice of the merry-going-round, which plays back over and over, suggests infinite repetition and a Dionysiac commitment to pleasure.
The soundtrack is an insistent techno throb, far removed from the cries of fear and joy one associated with a fair. It is an echo of the generator rather than the barker and the disco truck.
So there appears to be nothing humanist about the delivery of this experience. The film deals in machinery and a cosmic pulse, rather than happy memories and domestic home movies.
But for all that, the forms lack definition. The expressions of fear and joy are masks rather than faces to whom we might relate. The masks takes us all the way back to Greek drama.
Maybe this blog post is spinning out of control, but might we not see the riders as a masked chorus who can only comment on the conflicting forces of gravity and centrifugal pull.
There is really something frightening here, something that scares me about funfairs in general. And it has nothing to do with rusting bolts and prejudiced feelings about travellers.
The funfair is a factory for inducing hedonistic thrills by the relentless burning of diesel; it is a crude apparatus for moving bodies in all directions through space. Weird, or what?
James Coleman was at Marion Goodman, London, between the 4th March to 16 April 2016.