I arrived at Selfridges today with some trepidation. I find department stores, especially on a Saturday afternoon, overwhelming. Their labyrinth like qualities with bright lights, shiny things, synthetic smells and people jostling in all directions is my idea of a surreal hell. Everything seems distorted and unreal. I was relieved to find that the entrance to the Selfridges Hotel where the work of Judith Scott was on show and the discussion around ‘The Art of the Studio’ was up a separate staircase from the street.
When I entered the gallery I was pleasantly surprised by the space. It was like an industrial warehouse with exposed concrete walls and rough flooring. It seemed far removed from the commercial bustle of Oxford Street.
The lighting and the surrounds showed off Scotts work fantastically. These labouriously wrapped sculptures suspended in the space seemed to tightly hold so many stories and emotions. There was tranquillity in the curation of the work that balanced out the seeming endless passion entwined in the making process of the sculptures. I felt honoured to have encountered Scott’s work.
Following the interesting and international contributions to the discussion on ‘The Art of the Studio’ I got the courage up to battle the crowds and enter the show in the ‘Museum of Everything’ show in the basement of Selfridges.
I thought the labyrinth qualities of the show suited the department store yet was a welcome contradiction to the objects being sold in the store. On viewing the show I became completely overwhelmed with emotion as I encountered the work of Harald Stoffers. I could feel the tears welling as I stared at the density of his lines of words weaving and wondering across the pages before me. It held such passion and frustration.
“A thought, a word, a sentence, Stoffers daily art practice speaks on his behalf in letters written to a fictionalisation of his mother” was written next to these works. I could not ‘read’ these letters, they are in German, and I am not sure if I spoke German I could read them, or if they are ‘readable’. But the art of Stoffers is a language that communicates beyond the written word. It is visual, emotional and says so much more than the words written. The fact that these are letters to a mother is loaded in itself. It is almost as they represent the so many words that we would like to say to our mothers but are unable to utter. They say so much.