Page 1

Lying and Liars Mick Peter 2 Aug – 30 Sept 2012

Lying and Liars Mick Peter

Lying and Liars is a new installation created specifically for Collective's space by Glasgowbased artist Mick Peter. The exhibition title is derived from British novelist B.S. Johnson's idea that narrative fiction is a form of 'lying' and the show explores the conflict between storytelling and formal experimentation by mixing different sculptural and architectural idioms. As well as showing Johnson’s short film Paradigm in the project space there will also be a screening event, Lying and Liars on Film at the Filmhouse, Edinburgh on Friday 3 August. A range of Johnson's short films will be seen alongside films by experimental filmmakers and artists, which mix reflexive and experimental forms as ways of investigating the inadequacies of language. This festival exhibition may be Collective’s last in its present home. The gallery is moving from its long-term home on Cockburn Street to the City Observatory on Calton Hill. Collective has a role of developing new talent in the visual arts in Scotland and internationally; Mick Peter exemplifies this process. Collective both nurtures and challenges artists at pivotal stages in their career, Mick was first selected for New Work Scotland Programme in 2000, its inaugural year. Since that time Mick has gone on to exhibit internationally, and was included in the British Art Show 7 in 2010. Collective has taken this opportunity to present Mick’s work to an international audience during Edinburgh Art Festival 2012 as a chance to reflect upon the organisation’s activities over the last 12 years as it prepares for further developments.

Mick Peter Born in Berlin. Lives and works in Glasgow. MFA, Glasgow School of Art, 1998 – 2000
 BA, Ruskin School of Fine Art, Oxford. 1994 – 1997 Recent exhibitions include: 
 2012: Entrance Entrance, Temple Bar Gallery, Dublin; Who Decides?, Kunstverein Mannheim; Looping et Boomerang (collection FRAC BasseNormandie), Les Bains-Douches, Alençon; 2011: Hypercolon, SMART Projects, Amsterdam; Les Innommables grotesques, L MD galerie, Paris; Two Nots, Galerie Crèvecoeur, Paris; Tao Foam, GRIMM Gallery, Amsterdam; 2010: British Art Show 7, Nottingham, London, Glasgow, Plymouth; The Nose: Epilogue, Cell Projects, London; Dr Syntax versus the Paperweights, The Changing Room, Stirling; The Nose, La Salle de bains, Lyon. Mick Peter is represented by Galerie Crèvecoeur, Paris and Grimm, Amsterdam.

Right: Two Nots Drawing, 2011, Ink and pencil on paper, courtesy Galerie Crèvecoeur, Paris 2


By Isobel Harbison On Paper, Line follows Hand to become Drawing. At Sea, two Lines are drawn together to become Knot. But when that Knot is fished from Paper to be spoken, it voices the contrary; I Am Not. Mick Peter’s works are knotty, full of dual propositions that tie the linear to the literary via the material form. ‘You cannot write fiction any longer’, Peter says in conversation, ‘but you can write about the writing of fiction.’ And in drawing, relief and sculpture he follows suit, clear lines grow into physical bodies who present themselves with the wandering eye of the surreal, the chaotic whisper of the absurd, and the firm fist of the ghoulish. In Paris’ Galerie Crèvecoeur last year, Peter’s drawing Two Nots (2010-11) hung near his sculpture Not William (2010-11). Two Nots is a watercolour drawing of the frontispiece

of an imaginary Scout knot-tying manual. The frontispiece appears in two cropped pieces; the contours and shadows of its folds and edges are deftly rendered. Icons of rope appear, shorn by the incisions. Two severed eyeballs are painted poking through paper holes, pointing curiously in our direction and playing substitute to two typographic ‘O’s. We read what remains legible, ‘TwO’, ‘NOts’, ‘knot..ying… outs of America…llence and performance’. The work suggests itself as the leftovers of some errant Scout’s crazed misadventures after he has been equipped, somewhat negligently, with a pair of scissors. Accompanying this work, Not William is a suitably eldritch sculpture. Two boys’ shoes point in opposite directions on a low plinth. From them, two legs ascend but instead of merging into a human trunk they extend, cross over, drop and loop together in a 3

circular, tubular and oddly anthropomorphic form. Upon this frame, balance four ocular spheres. Not William’s surface is rough and grey and the whole appears heavy however it is not made from concrete or clay but from Jesmonite; a deceptively light and pliant material. Both works allude to Roald Dahl’s grotesque short story, William and Mary (c.1960), where, after the male protagonist’s death, his brain and eyeballs are preserved and held captive by his vengeful wife, insistent upon tormenting him with clear views of her spiteful misbehaviour. In Peter’s work, these body parts are appropriated for a play that takes a different shape, selfregarding organs are superimposed onto quite contradictory forms, symbolising a strain of fiction that knows it’s dismembered but still insists upon its task; bare-faced liars who continue to lie. In Collective then, it will come as no surprise if things seem a little off-kilter. The walls’ surfaces are dark and rough, the grey 4

cement uneven. Heavy, horizontal lines run around it in parallel, looped once and splayed before continuing their circuit. The form recalls a detail from designer Franco Grignani’s notable 1969 Pirelli campaign, when the tyre mark’s imprint literally informed the emblem of his advertisement’s graphic lines. The clever self-awareness of the original campaign is stressed here as Peter unfurls it, throwing the tyre marks back into relief, the line sinking into the gallery walls like a muddy circular race track. As viewers we clearly stand beside it, but if we consider it in this imagined version, then we can somehow stand beneath it too. Peter draws from diverse sources in literature, advertising, music and film, dating or inspired by British and American avant-garde literature and music from the 1960s and 1970s; creative efforts that were structurally self-regarding whilst also recognisably figurative and amusingly

satirical. And Peter’s working process is fittingly stratified. A series of his recent drawings illustrates songs from an album by the British band, Socrates That Practices Music. Described by one music critic as “kinetic art punk” Socrates That Practices Music extrapolates lyrics from random, banal sources, delivering them with melodramatic vocals and layered instrumental. Their incongruent medleys are surreal and sometimes droll, possible musical precedents might include The Fugs, The Bonzo Dog Band, or Frank Zappa and Tony Palmer’s opera, 200 Motels. Peter’s drawing, Further Conclusions Against and Italian Version (BAT) (2011) borrows its title from Socrates’ eponymous album. His ‘…Version’ began as a quick sketch of a girl lying on her belly reading, a sketch that he then cut into a paper figurine, folded and balanced upon an Op-art drawing of concentric black and white circles. Peter then painted this pop-up ensemble photo-realistically, from above. Here at Collective, this watercolour

drawing has been re-orientated back into three-dimensional form, her form set and sealed again in Jesmonite to become newly sculptural. She’s an innocent reader but also a liar, lying. In form and content, she’s a figurative-abstraction that has transcended drawing after drawing after drawing. In the project space, B.S Johnson’s film, Paradigm (1969) plays. Its nude male protagonist is positioned on an arrangement of oddly coloured plinths resembling an untidy stack of oversized books, speaking an invented language, something like Esperanto. Progressing in sequence, he grows visibly older, goes from nude to conservatively suited and speaks with less confidence and frequency. There is an insistent low background hum, the pitch of which becomes higher and more piercing as he physically and emotionally deteriorates. Of it, Johnson once said, “the film is a paradigm of one view of the writer's condition: the older you get, the 5

less you have to say and the more difficulty you have in saying it. By extension, it is also a paradigm of the human condition.” Johnson’s avant-garde poetry and fiction often acknowledged the incongruence of traditional narrative structure against the fundamental characteristics of human life, ‘chaotic, fluid, random, [that] leaves myriads of ends untied, untidily’. Johnson was often the protagonist of his own work and his approach to narrative structuring was radical, shading his pages gradually from grey to black (mimicking the onset of illhealth) in Travelling People (1963), cutting holes in pages through which readers might see forward in Albert Angelo (1964) or leaving the novel unbound and chaotic in The Unfortunates (1969). In his installation adaptation, Peter delves into Johnson’s short film and extracts particular architectural elements. The background cloud-paper from the film, frames the installation, a device that has appeared before in the surreal paintings of René Magritte, for example, The Son of Man, (1964) and the macabre panic drawings

of Roland Topor, which, once imposed behind the formal attire of businessmen, emphasises a sense of metaphysical isolation and alienation. The film plays on a monitor that is propped on the stack it depicts, Johnson’s ‘writer’s condition’ here boxed in on a plinth becoming the emblem of an artist’s condition, who now wrestles its contents out. Johnson’s presence appears elsewhere in the exhibition too, his rotund, tweed-clad body adopting similar sculptural form as the lying girl. This is the sculpture of a sketch of an author, a seemingly fitting tribute to a writer whose own works left their structural layers as open and bare as he could possibly have left them, as if somehow performing their own autopsy. Peter’s works are clever and complicated, but they are never sewn up or stitched together. In his words, they are forms that “bend the rules of their own idiom” or in Johnson’s words, they are “a myriad of ends untied, untidily”. They are Knot.

Previous page left: Not Mary, 2011, Acrylic resin, ink, plastic tubing, polystyrene & wood, courtesy Galerie Crèvecoeur, Paris Previous page right: The Nose: Epilogue (installation view), 2010, courtesy Cell Projects, London Left: An Interior Spaces (pt 1 of 3), 2012 Ink and pencil on paper, courtesy Galerie Crèvecoeur, Paris Opposite page: Lying and Liars, 2012 6


Collective is committed to supporting new visual art through a programme of exhibitions, projects and commissions. Originally established as an artist run organisation in 1984, Collective is an international organisation for the production, research, presentation and distribution of contemporary art and culture with a specific focus on new visual art and practices. We aim to foster, support, and debate new work and practices in a way which is of mutual benefit to artists and audiences. See the future of visual art today.

Collective 22–28 Cockburn Street Edinburgh EH1 1NY t: +44 (0) 131 220 1260 w: e:

Mick Peter Lying and Liars  

An accompanying guide to Mick Peter's Edinburgh Art Festival exhibition at Collective from 2 August - 30 September 2012. With an essay by Is...

Mick Peter Lying and Liars  

An accompanying guide to Mick Peter's Edinburgh Art Festival exhibition at Collective from 2 August - 30 September 2012. With an essay by Is...