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REVIEWS
LONDON: LISSON GALLERY

IMAGINE ACTION
5 July – 22 September 2007

www.lissongallery.com

Since the explosion of the rave scene in the 1990s a number of recurrent
gatherings, such as Reclaim the Streets, Burning Man Festival, Critical Mass
and the ‘Flash Mobs’, have adopted the same defi ant love-thy-neighbour
ethos of the original rave. Somewhere between a party and a protest, these
ensembles celebrate the notion of public space, while testing the critical
potential of a social gathering. ‘Imagine Action’, curated by Emily Pethick,
is an exhibition of fi lms, videos, collages, photographs and sculptures that
employ similarly blasé political tactics in the investigation of public and
private space, and the relationship between the individual and society.





The forefather of much of the work in the show is Dan Graham,
who is represented with a video of his performance Performer/Audience/
Mirror (1977), which explores the dynamic between the individual and
the audience. The performance was restaged on the opening night of the
exhibition, during which Graham stood in front of a large mirror refl ecting
an image of the audience back on itself. Many of the works in the show,
including Ricardo Basbaum’s crude wall drawing, Diagrams (superpronoun)1-
6, 2003 /2007, investigate similarly basic social encounters, while others,
such as Althea Thauberger’s collaboration with young Berlin-based socialservice
draftees, Zivildienst ≠ Kunstprojekt (Social Service ≠ Art Project),
(2006) delve into more convoluted group interactions.

‘Imagine Action’ is a sprawling show that assumes as its remit
everything from architecture and urban planning to the promises of modernism
and failed utopian visions. However, the most successful moments are also
the most ambiguous, such as Florian Pumhösl’s exquisite minimal, geometric
designs, or Gareth Jones’s brick tower. It is in these instances that the
exhibition emerges as a rare obfuscation of politics, poetics, and, in the case
of Judith Hopf and Deborah Schamoni’s Bone Dance (2006), even parties.

CHARLOTTE BONHAM-CARTER

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