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Ian Giles


26 July 2012

TJ Boulting is pleased to present ‘Captivity’, a performance and installation created by artist Ian Giles. The gallery’s 4 metre high ceilings have been utilised and transformed into an indoor climbing wall. For the opening performance rock climbers explored routes across the walls accompanied by musicians below on electric guitars responding to the climbers. The performance placed real actions within a constructed setting, in this way it acted as a theatrical documentary, the real was re-presented as a spectacle.

How we move, our actions and reactions are born out of thousands of years of being. We hold a historic physical language inherent in our bodies. During human development climbing was part of surviving; to gather, to hunt and to explore. Although there is now no need for us to climb it is still a simple and natural skill that we possess. Climbing requires a synergy between ones brain and body, strength and strategy combine to allow the body to carry its own weight across a vertical plain. The human body is a sculpted material, like a lump of clay it has to be shaped and conditioned; its form is in flux; ever collecting and recording knowledge over time.

Now the climbing wall remains as a charged relic in the gallery space, its surface bares the marks of the climber’s presence. Chalk dust and dislodged paint show us where others have been and allows us to trace their movements. The wall is a sculptural object; a record of a time that has passed – shaped and changed by those who have used it.

Presented alongside this performance in the second gallery space, are two sculptures entitled Listen Harder. Listen Harder [one and two] are sound sculptures which explore the naturally occurring phenomenon of ‘Acoustic Emission’, whereby external stimuli such as earthquakes generate sources of elastic waves inside rocks. The glacial rocks contain 44,000 sound clips of Acoustic Emissions collected by the Rock and Ice Physics Laboratory at University College London. These emissions have been lowered to an audible frequency in order to make them accessible. Through this digital process these ancient sounds take on a new form; they are reshaped into the present.

Giles also presents his most recent video ‘The Stone Balancer’ which was at the centre of his MFA exhibition at the Slade School of Fine Art this summer. The film features a man called Adrian Grey, who is a stone balancer by trade. Grey became allergic to electricity and highly sensitive to chemicals following a tropical illness in Madagascar. To aid his recovery he moved to Dorset and it was there that he discovered a love for combing beaches to find huge rocks to balance at unlikely angles. Giles’ film documents Grey in the act of balancing a large rock on top of another. This tense footage is mixed with images of two acrobats in training; their actions mirror those of the stones and create an air of theatrically in the work. At times it seems that the video is presenting us with a moment of fiction but in truth the work reveals that life can be stranger than fiction and that moments of ore are rare and brilliant.

The title of the exhibition; ‘Captivity’ is designed to suggest a controlled setting which is both natural and yet is contained and re-presented to be viewed. Instead of presenting stylised movements of fiction, here the real is presented within the artificial.


Ian Giles (b 1985) has just completed his MA in Fine Art from Slade School of Art, London. Previously he completed his BA at Chelsea School of Art. He was selected as part of this year’s Glasgow International and has presented performances at Camden Arts Centre, ICA, Whitstable Biennial, Barbican, the Floating Cinema, 20 Hoxton Projects, Paradise Row and Arnolfini gallery. He lives and works in London.

Ian Giles Captivity: Current Exhibitions
Ian Giles Captivity: Exhibitions
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