The unbroken, real-time shots of domestic scenes explore innocuous, seemingly insignificant events. Everyday incidents are played very slowly. The consciousness of each performer escapes the intention of their slow action. As the nuances change in the slowly shifting picture, the subtle inference of relationships and situations is constantly modified.
There is an acute awareness of being alive, of horror and of wonder. Elements within the picture – a fire, running water – are reminders that time has not slowed down. Unlike a fixed image that arrests and holds onto a moment, here moments inexorably slip by.The performers’ sense of awkwardness and isolation alerts the viewer to the imperfect stillness. Sounds from the video images invade the space to create an uneasy sense of instability. The movement produces inadvertent and painful noises of creaking and cracking floorboards.
“Stevens’ installation achieves meaningfulness without seeming to aim for it…Sculptors, film-makers, performers and realist painters (on the show’s evidence, Stevens’ sensibility is a combination of these) will come flocking from all directions to feast eyes on (it)”Art Review 2003
“The painfulness of these performances is both mesmerising and terrifying, thrown into sharp relief by the relentless continuity of the life objects around them.”Portfolio 2003
Slow Life was originally commissioned and presented by Matt’s Gallery, London in association with Artsadmin in 2003. Subsequently presented at Artefiera, Bologna; Melbourne Festival, Australia, 2004; to be continued…jatkuu, Helsinki Photography Festival, Finland, 2005; Kettles Yard, Cambridge 2005/06; and Southampton City Art Gallery (who have also purchased the first edition of five), 2006.
Performed by: Phyllida Barlow, Fabian Peake, Florence Peake, Clover Peake, Edward Peake; Brian Catling and Sarah Simblet; Martin Jones and Emma Bernard; Julian Maynard Smith and Gary Stevens; Mark Weyman, Rosie Thwaites and Rachel Gomme.
Lighting and camera: Paul Bush, David Gopsill and Martin Jones
Sound: Graeme Miller