In the work of Young British Artist (YBA) Darren Almond, the ‘in-between’ moments of everyday life are revealed as having their own particular atmosphere and meaning. Renowned for his innovative use of video technology, Almond employs both image and sound to involve the viewer in an intensified experience of time. His approach is not confrontational, but rather depends on restraint and understatement to achieve its effect. As Martin Herbert writes, ‘There is a muteness about Almond’s art, about the way he approaches his materials, which, paradoxically, speaks volumes’. A fervent admirer of 17th Century Dutch painter Jan Vermeer, Almond creates images and scenarios that establish a similar play between stillness and change, the banal and the theatrical.
Childhood escapism for Almond came in the form of the commonly derided hobby of train-spotting. This early immersion in a world of clocks and timetables encouraged him to infuse an essentially sculptural sensibility with a heightened awareness of boredom, suspense, anxiety and all those other things that one may feel while waiting for something to happen. A real-time piece (1995) was a wall-sized projection of the artist’s empty studio, transmitted live via satellite to a space on the other side of town. In HMP Pentonville (1997) he applied a similar strategy to a prison cell. In the former work, the only audible sound was the regular snap of a large flip-clock; in the latter, it was the ceaseless racket of prison life.
In order to shoot Geisterbahn (1999), Almond attached a camera to the front of an old ghost train carriage at a fairground in Vienna, Austria, placing the lens inside a skull’s eye socket. To the accompaniment of German DJ Stefan Betke’s seductive techno soundtrack, we experience the tacky thrills of the ride in glimmering black and white. What was merely gaudy and obviously fake has been made into something dreamlike and lyrical. An earlier train film featured the famous inverted monorail in Wuppertal, Germany, and a future addition to the series will be set in a Russian coalmine. ‘I can’t make films in England because I just know the place too well’, says Almond. ‘I like to get myself into a situation where I’m vulnerable and open because then my observation is sharper.’
Perhaps Almond’s darkest work to date is Oswiecim, March 1997 (1997), which consists of two 8mm films of bus stops in the small Polish town of the title, projected side by side. One of these stops is crowded with visitors from the Auschwitz concentration camp museum, the other with commuters bound further afield. One group has traveled specially to Oswiecim, and are now leaving after having experienced the profound horrors documented by the museum. The other group consists of locals on their daily journeys, who no doubt try every day to forget the camp and its history. The slowed-down, grainy quality of the film seems to make their wait all the more agonizing, a process as poignant as the artist’s conflicting concerns in this work: his generational alienation from the subject of the war and his personal desire to find a way of re-engaging with it.
Traction (1999), a three-part video installation commissioned by the Renaissance Society, Chicago and featuring the artists’ parents, saw Almond make use of overtly autobiographical source material for the first time. The 28-minute sequence features, on one screen, Almond’s father talking about various physical injuries he has received in the course of his working life and, on another, his mother’s emotional reactions. The central screen shows a mechanical digger at a construction site, a scene-setting device and succinct metaphor for the unearthing of stories. The work is both a portrait of the artist’s family – he has expressed a fascination with paintings by Pieter de Hooch, another 17th Century Dutch artist, that fulfill a comparable role – and a moving essay on human frailty. In respect of Traction, Almond has spoken of ‘the vulnerability of your body . the vulnerability of love . and the vulnerability of yourself against time’. These last words perhaps reveal the key to all of Almond’s output.
Moscow Biennale, Former Lenin Museum, Moscow, February – March
Salamanca, Domus Atrium, Darren Almond: If I had you, June – September
Shoot the Family, Knoxville Museum of Art, Tennessee, June – September
Western Gallery, Western Washington University, Bellingham, October – December
Caspar David Friedrich: Inventing Romanticism, Hamburger Kunsthalle, October – January 2007
Darren Almond, Museum Folkwang, Essen, October – January 2007
Darren Almond, Turner Prize Exhibition, Tate Britain London, October 2005 – January 2006
Darren Almond, Chantal Crousel Gallery, Paris, November 2005 – January 2006
Darren Almond, Matthew Marks Gallery, New York
Isolation, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, K21, Dusseldorf, Germany
Darren Almond: Live Sentence, Lentos Kunstmuseum Linz, Linz
Darren Almond: If I Had You, Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin
If I Had You, Fondazione Nicola Trussardi, Milan
Darren Almond: Mine, A, Galleri K, Oslo, Norway
Darren Almond: Full Moon, Sommer Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv, Israel
11 miles……from Safety, Jay Jopling/White Cube, London
A, (commissioned by Public Art Development Trust), National Theatre, London
At Speed, Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin
Coming Up For Air, Matthew Marks Gallery, New York
Kunsthalle, Zurich (catalogue)
Darren Almond: Night as Day, Tate Britain, London (catalogue)
De Appel Foundation, Amsterdam
Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin
Darren Almond: Mean Time, Matthew Marks Gallery, New York
The Approach, London
Darren Almond: Traction, Chisenhale Gallery, London
Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin
The Renaissance Society, The University of Chicago
Institute of Contemporary Arts, (commissioned by Toshiba Art & Innovation Commission), London
Jay Jopling/White Cube, London
KN120, Great Western Studios, London
Crawford Art College, Cork, Ireland
En Attente, Casino Luxembourg, Luxembourg 16 July – 18 September
Bidibidobidiboo. La Collezione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Palazzo Re Rebaudengo, Piazza del Municipio, Guarene d’Alba, 28 May – 02 October
Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin, 01 June – 03 July
The Mind is a Horse Part II, Bloomberg Space, London, 25 May – 09 July
Getting Emotional, Institute of Contemporary Arts, Boston, 18 May – 05 September
Eclipse: Towards the edge of the visible, White Cube, London
Video Acts: Single Channel Video Works from the Collections of Pamela and Richard Kramlich and the New Art Trust, P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, New York
Sculpture: Darren Almond, Peter Fischli David Weiss, Katharina Fritsch, Robert Gober, Donald Judd, Ellsworth Kelly, Ugo Rondinone, Tony Smith, Matthew Marks Gallery, New York
Hot Summer in the City, Sean Kelly Gallery, New York
In Light: Video Projections by Eight Artists, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Canada
Breathing the Water, Galerie Hauser& Wirth & Presenhuber, Zurich
Witness, Barbican Art Gallery, The Curve Gallery, London
Melodrama, MARCO, Vigo, Spain
Venice Biennale, Venice
Fourth Wall, Public Art Development Trust Film Commission, Whitechapel Art Gallery, London; Traveled to Yorkshire Sculpture Park, England
Melodrama, Artium, Centro-Museo Vasco de Arte Contemporaneo, Vitoria-Gasteiz; Traveled to Centro Jose Guerrero, Granada (catalogue)
Happy Outsiders from London and Scotland, Zacheta Gallery, Warsaw; Traveled to Katowice, Poland
Put in Context, Kunstverein Hamburg
Presentness is Grace – Experiencing the Suspended Moment, Spacex Gallery, Exeter, England
In the Freud Museum, Freud Museum, London
Kunstsammlung im Standehaus, Dusseldorf
Casino 2001, SMAK and Bijlokenmuseum, Ghent (catalogue)
Tracking, Logan Galleries, CCAC, San Francisco
Making Time, Armand Hammer Museum, University of California, Los Angeles
Deliberate Living, Greene Naftali Gallery, New York
Nature in Photography, Galerie Nachst St. Stephan, Vienna
Tenth Anniversary Exhibition, 100 Drawings and Photographs, Matthew Marks Gallery, New York (catalogue)
Geographies (Darren Almond, Graham Gussin, Anri Sala), Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris
Making Time: Considering Time as a Material in Contemporary Video and Film, Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art, Florida
Apocalypse: Beauty and Horror in Contemporary Art, Royal Academy of Arts, London (catalogue)
Diary, Cornerhouse, Manchester
Out There, White Cube 2, London
Inverse Perspectives, Edsvik, Sollentuna, Sweden
Sleeping Waters, Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris
Chronos & Kairos, Museum Fridericianum Kassel, Germany
Seeing Time, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
So Far Away, So Close, Encore…, Bruxelles Espace Meridien, Brussels
Concrete Ashtray, Friedrich Petzel Gallery, New York
Common People, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaundengo, Turin, Italy
UK Maximum Diversity, Galerie Krinzinger, Benger Fabrik Bregenz, Austria
View Four, Mary Boone Gallery, New York
Hidden Desires and Images, Art Dynamics, Tayayo Lida, Tokyo
Ray Rapp, Tz’Art & Co., New York
Art Crash, Arhus Kunstmuseum, Denmark
A Print Portfolio from London (Ridinghouse/Booth Clibborn Editions), Atle Gerhardsen, Oslo
Delta, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris
Hospital, Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin
Sensation. Young British Artists from the Saatchi Collection, Royal Academy of Arts, London; Traveled to Hamburger Bahnhof, Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin; and Brooklyn Museum of Art (catalogue)
Art & Innovation Prize, Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (winner)
Something Else, Exmouth Market, London
A Small Shifting Sphere of Serious Culture, Institute of Contemporary Arts, London
Group Exhibition, Winchester Gallery, England
Group Exhibition, Southampton Quays, England
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