The Urban Guide to the Countryside
Cornwall Edition

Exhibition: David Blandy’s Citadel at The Exchange, Penzance

20 Feb 2016

IMG_2399Citadel, the spring exhibition at The Exchange, Penzance features two contrasting but linked  immersive installation by UK artist David Blandy. We missed the open night (half-term, writing the Muddy guide, getting my roots de-tinselled – you get the picture), but after packing the kids off to granny, took a detour from the charming shops of Chapel Street and popped in this week.

bland montIf you’re not familiar with his work, David Blandy is a London/Brighton based artist influenced by, among other things, Japan and pop-culture producing video, performances and comics. His work has featured in solo exhibitions and group shows including Bloomberg SPACE, London and will be part of “Eva International 2016: Still (The) Barbarians”, curated by Koyo Kouoh.

And wowsers! Citadel has taken over the whole of the Exchange…

In the first space, and taking its name from Superman’s secret HQ is ‘Fortress of Solitude‘ – a bright personal archive of hip-hop, soul, Kung Fu, spaceinvaders, Star Wars and cartoon. Fortress is like a cleaned up teeenagers bedroom – a neat self-portrait made from his belongings for visitors to explore.

IMG_2410 I’ve not been to many art installations where you can (shock horror) TOUCH the exhibits (hey you at the back – DO NOT TOUCH!) but in the true sense of the word, this installation refreshingly offers a place for you to thumb through Blandy’s collection of classic comics, groove to a fine selection of rare Funk and Soul vinyl before settling down for a session on his PS2. At listening posts you can self-select any of Blandy’s backlog of playful videos (lip-synching Wu Tang on the tube anyone?).

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There’s also video of his previous project Barefoot Lone Pilgrim in which he integrates real life and virtual adventures

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Dressed as a Shaolin Monk, portable record player in hand, the out-of-place nerdy kid walks the country barefoot in search of soul. Mr MC is reminded of David Carradine in the Kung Fu series and infact the project is intercut with footage from TV shows like the 70’s cult classic as well as Monkey (Journey to the West) and films (think Shogun Assassin and Princess Mononoke).

Not for the fainthearted, in the next room is the mesmerising Hercules: Rough Cut.

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Dark, powerful and strobe lit, the second installation features hypnotically revolving, evolving video footage Blandy drew from the vast archive of global financial news giant Bloomberg. The installation is an assault on the senses and for me, the experience bordered on unnerving.

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Overlaying the media streaming of the city, industry and finance is a mono narrative blending street talk with Blake, politics with funk. Goosebumps anyone?

The exhibition is comprehensive and totally absorbing, but shouldn’t take more than an hour. Perfect for dipping into during your lunch break (just don’t blame me if you are late back), or popping up to see it during a wet Saturday morning – there’ll be a few of those before the show ends.

Citadel runs until Sat 16 April.

Free entry 10am-5pm The Exchange, Princes Street, Penzance, TR18 2NL, 01736 363715 info@newlynartgallery.co.uk

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The Urban Guide to the Countryside -
Cornwall Edition