Anthony Shapland: Suddenly After A Long Silence
"It’s the briefest of pauses, with not time enough to even turn full circle and look at all the lights this city throws out to the sky, and it’s a pause which is easily broken. A slamming door, a car alarm, a thin drift of music from half a mile away, and already the city is moving on, already tomorrow is here." Jon McGregor, If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things (2002)
Suddenly After a Long Silence explores the moments of change and temporal shifts that occur between two defined states. Anthony Shapland’s exhibition features a series of documentary-style films that not only observe the ‘real’ or the ‘actual’ but also reference notions of staging, scripting and artifice.
New works created for Chapter include False Dawn, a two screen piece that documents a film crew developing a lighting sequence. The revelation of the practicalities involved in creating an illusionary and fictional world for the camera occurs alongside the desire to believe in the end result, as a caged canary greets the ‘day’ with an optimistic song.
In contrast, A Setting shows the slow descent into real darkness that a city can hold at bay. Filmed in the South Wales valleys, a lone figure watches the encroaching night, away from the relative safety of street lighting. In two long takes, dusk happens in real-time, encouraging you to slow down and prepare for something that we usually rush to shut out – the dark.
A third film, Last Dance, examines the twilight uncertainty of the city, and charts the moments just before nightclub strip-lights flicker on to signal the end of a night out. Scripted from real-time events, it has been staged with actors to create a carefully annotated mirror of behaviour and interaction, flirting and rejection.
Earlier works in the exhibition include Nocturne ii which looks at the transition between a night out and the start of a working day. A CCTV camera observes the way that a doorway becomes a private space as different groups of people – from Bunny Girls on a Hen Night to lone males peeing – use the same area to demonstrate a range of behaviour. The dialogue is scripted on an adjacent screen emphasising the small repetitive acts that flit between emotion and action.
A Sign has its UK debut at Chapter. Filmed from a static viewpoint, the coolly dispassionate eye of the camera observes a discarded Christmas tree that lies abandoned on the side of a road. The tree ignites into flame and eventually burns itself out in an achingly tragic exploration of the search for meaning in everyday life.
All of the works on display hold you in a sort of twilight space, neither day nor night, fiction nor reality. It is here in this playful uncertainty that the work forces you to reconsider the everyday things you feel sure of.
Born in Pontypridd, Anthony Shapland is a Cardiff-based artist who has exhibited nationally and internationally. He is also known for his curatorial work with g39, an artist-run organisation based in Cardiff of which he was a co-founder. ‘Suddenly After a Long Silence’ is Shapland’s first solo exhibition in the UK.
Previous group exhibitions include: ‘Host’, Consortium, Amsterdam (2006); ‘Something Of The Night’, Leeds City Gallery, Leeds (2005); ‘Over and Over, Again and Again’, CAC, Vilnius, Lithuania (2005); ‘Unplumbed’ Keith Talent, London; ‘We are not here to give you pleasure’, Art & Essai, Rennes, ProtoAcademy, Edinburgh and Rraum02, Frankfurt. Recent commissions include: ‘Another New Babylon’, CBAT, Cardiff (2006); ‘Nightworkers’, Vitrine, Leeds City Centre (2005); ‘State of Preservation’, Baden-W?rttemberg, Germany (2004).