Questioning ideas of value

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Katy Wheeler takes a look at the latest exhibition to be installed at the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art.

THREE years of work created in video, digital, animation and installation combine in Simon Martin’s largest public exhibition to date.

His work examines our relationship to objects and the material world around us.

He queries how and why we attribute different values and significance to inanimate, man-made objects.

The artist is interested in how we understand ourselves through social structures, mythologies and collective memory evidenced in art objects, mass media, popular culture and the built environment.

Working with video and sculpture, he records his findings by questioning ideas of value associated to historical objects and artefacts.

Simon graduated from the Slade School of Fine Art in 1989. He has had solo exhibitions at White Columns, New York, Counter Gallery, London, The Power Plant, Toronto, a solo show at the Chisenhale Gallery and a solo show at Kunstverein, Amsterdam. He was the recipient of a Paul Hamlyn Award in 2008 and shortlisted for the Jarman Award in 2009.

This latest exhibition at the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art (NGCA) in Fawcett Street brings together four short films by Simon that exemplify two contrasting tendencies in his recent work.

His pieces, Carlton and Louis Ghost Chair, take the form of a monologue, accompanied by luxuriantly photographed details of the two objects in the titles, to prize open new meanings from historical objects.

Over the duration of its 17 minutes, the work looks at what an apparently simple chair tells us about both the means of production, and the production of meaning, in the early 21st century.

* The Simon Martin exhibition runs at NGCA until May 3.