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17 Mar 10 - 10 Apr 10


Laureana Toledo


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Trolley Gallery is pleased to present a solo show by Mexican artist Laureana Toledo. The title refers to the recent chance discovery of the words ‘Just say YES’ scrawled on a piece of paper she found in the studio she was lent. The artist then decided to follow that instruction, and saying ‘Yes’ became an instrumental process in the formulation of the show.

Toledo’s work often seeks to reveal new interpretations of existing material and objects by visual interventions that alter the context and resulting understanding of what is presented to the viewer. The main body of work produced for this show is an installation of local newspaper headlines, billboards sourced from outside newsagents. Toledo systematically removed all but one of the words on each of the headlines she collected. After she had accumulated a substantial variety of words she then began to group the resulting sheets into phrases that reformulated the notion of a headline, and often translated more as an instruction. In doing so, the starting point of short and objective simple pessimistic news statements through artistic interference, was given an almost poetic quality, subjective to the artist’s direction. The new phrases are often optimistic, messages commanding ‘Love’ and ‘Yes’ for example, that also play with the often overtly negative news statements. The sheets are hung in formation of their new meanings around the main room of the gallery, a bold visual statement with an altogether more alluring interpretation for the viewer. The newspapers themselves are local London ones, including the Hackney and Islington Gazettes, as such often more banal in their content and deserving of escape and delusional re-interpretation.

Toledo’s background is photography, and she has produced in recent years a series of works in which she physically removes the emulsion layer on a standard processed print, to reveal an altogether different composition, one that by removing original elements seen as superfluous she reveals another. This is again a systematic process as it was with the newspaper headlines, removing to reveal another interpretation. The process is methodical and considered. The result often visually abstract using shapes and colours, yet mathematical in its structure. The train tracks from Bologna Railway Station, Italy are isolated as they enter and leave the station, whilst Toledo examined how she could draw and make a pattern of their routes. By coincidence reminiscent of John Cage’s ‘Il Treno’ from 1978, a sound piece which recorded the journey through several towns and cities to and from Bologna station on a train, where we’re just left with the sound of the machine, without knowing where it is that we really are. The artist has transported these onto London rail stations, where the slim difference between Marylebone and Victoria stations are highlighted.

As another way of looking at the urban landscape, there are also collages formed from photographs taken by the artist of buildings and music concerts, that create fantasy animal shapes, where the same process of detailed isolation of parts of the whole are put together in a free way, allowing our fears and nightmares to show up. Toledo has rarely done much figuration in her work, and by saying yes to whatever showed up here, she transports many different periods of architecture into an A1 page, as an eclectic DJ shaping a remix. There are also three contact sheets of photographs taken of the Barbican centre, where she has painted in acrylic blocks of red colour the nothing-space between the buildings. Generally, in architecture photography, the main subject is the building, and by highlighting red on the air, Toledo gives importance not to the bodies but to the absence and to the space that separates them. The slight variation on the framing of the shot makes a sloppy repetition pattern, quite like the naïve melody we whistle whilst walking the streets of this city, hoping to find yes words in bad news.

These working methods and instructions can be seen also in Laureana Toledo’s debut publication ‘The Limit’, published by Trolley Books. As part of Art Sheffield 05, Toledo created a cover band that sang songs by local Sheffield groups, and named it after the cult Sheffield nightclub, The Limit, which closed in 1992. The band was created in Mexico - where it played one local concert, then came to Sheffield, where it played two shows before disbanding. Like most of Toledo’s work, The Limit appropriated and reinterpreted a pre-existing entity. With this volume, Toledo continued to play with the idea of authorship by pirating an already iconic magazine layout - The Face - and turning it into a labyrinth of information that leaves the reader unsure if he or she is reading about music, a band’s story, an artist, Mexico or even just pop culture. The book was launched at the Serpentine Gallery, London, on 11th March 2010.

Exhibition opening kindly supported by the Mexican Embassy in London and Corona beer.