What brings sculpture and performance together? Loaded with tension and frenetic energy, Rose English: A Premonition of the Act and Florian Roithmayr: with, and, or, without are united in their simultaneous exhibitions at Camden Arts Centre. The decision to pair a seminal performance artist with German-born Roithmayr may not have been an obvious choice; and it makes for an interesting visit. 

It’s a total blackout in Gallery One. Typically of English, the exhibition is presented in darkness–I am in a velvet theatre and the air is heavy with reverberating song. The cavernous space intensifies the celestial voices, which undulate and eventually peak in piercing, frantic crescendos. I am listening to Lost in Music, English’s libretto written in collaboration with Luke Stoneham, a project that has been in gestation for nearly a decade. Realised in part by English’s fascination with singing, glass, flying and fire, the sound-piece looks at how language transforms when floated on music, and at the relationship between glass blowing and song. Quite simply, each phenomenology is chosen for its fluidity, all in a constant cycle of motion.

In another room A Premonition of the Act (2015) plays, documentary footage of circus acts; acrobatics and dizzying plate-spinning. As the sculptural glass object encounters the lithe acrobat’s body it becomes invigorated with a kinetic energy, reliant on this relationship it becomes fluid.

In a much lighter setting, Florian Roithmayr presents a new body of sculptural works, which observe material transformation and transference in the process of making. While seeming inert, each object is moved daily–Roithmayr has relinquished control over the pieces and instead, curation is decided by the invigilation team–meaning each day will present a new experience.

At odds with the heavy-duty industrial materials that he uses, these sculptures allude to nature. Adoration takes the form of spiked balls, replicating rounded armadillo shells. Balanced upon each other without aid, the objects become interdependent, fraught with tension. Each work belies its materiality; in Fermata & Strike concrete is made to seem permeable. The sculpture’s fissures are created through the combination of expanding foam and concrete, entombed within a case. As the two materials struggle for space, they eventually collapse.

It is the sense of movement that defines both artists’ practice. Fascinated by relationships, the temporality of the act and the fluidity that this implies, each work provokes a physical chain reaction.

Rose English: A Premonition in the Act and Florian Roithmayr: with, and, or, without are showing at Camden Arts Centre until 6 March 2016

Rose English Prototypes of Practice (detail) 2011
Rose English Ornamental Happiness 2006. Photo: Alastair Muir
Rose English, Glass Diabolo, 2008
Rose English installation image at Camden Arts Centre, 2015
Florian Roithmayr installation view at Camden Arts Centre, 2015
Florian Roithmayr installation view at Camden Arts Centre, 2015
Florian Roithmayr installation view at Camden Arts Centre, 2015
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