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Pearl Lam Galleries
Pearl Lam Fine Art
No. 181 Middle Jiangxi Road, G/F
Shanghai, China 200002   map * 
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Michael Wilkinson: En Attendant
by Pearl Lam Galleries
Location: Pearl Lam Galleries
Artist(s): Michael WILKINSON
Date: 15 Apr - 12 May 2013

Wilkinson’s work is characterised by subtly layered collages, which draw from a variety of cultural references such as pop culture, political and art history, punk rock and anarchism. The artist uses materials including found photographs from the 19th and 20th centuries, blackboard paint, beeswax, audio and VHS tape, vinyl records, cellophane and etched mirrors.

The centerpiece of the exhibition, En Attendant (2013), is an almost life-size black and white print of a horse-drawn carriage, blown up to over 5m wide from a small detail of a 19th century photograph of the Hôtel de Ville, Paris, in ruins after the suppression of the Commune in 1871. In the foreground, the horse and carriage remain motionless, whilst the figures surrounding it have been rendered ghost-like due to the long exposure.

Paris features in a number of other works on show, from the 19th century into modern day. One series of etched mirrors uses the faces of onlookers during a clash with riot police in May 1968, contrasted against atmospheric newspaper cuttings from the same period showing an armoured car on a motorway at night, or smiling policemen holding up a tattered red flag.

This new series focusing on Paris is displayed alongside important collages from Wilkinson’s recent Dresden series (2012). The Dresden works reference the ‘Seditionaries’ clothing shop which operated during the 1970s punk rock era, run by renowned British fashion designers Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren, which used photographs of bombed out Dresden during the Second World War for wallpaper. Historians have described the shelling of Dresden as one of the most controversial attacks by the British military during World War II—a metaphor for the punk aesthetic, the end of the Establishment and of seemingly cultured society.

Wilkinson’s Dresden series focuses on his hometown of Liverpool—large-scale mirrors etched with images appropriated from old photographs showing the effects of heavy bombing during World War II. By using ‘Dresden’ as the title of the series, the artist uses the city as a metaphor for other locations across Europe united by destruction, whilst referencing the 1970s punk era.

Large-scale sculptures will punctuate the collages installed throughout the gallery. Audio and VHS tape hang in clumps from the ceiling and vinyl records lie stacked in towers. By displaying the means by which we record and re-experience past events through recorded imagery, sound, popular music or films, Wilkinson examines collective cultural history and questions the way in which we attempt to record and re-experience it.

Image: © Michael Wilkinson, Pearl Lam Galleries

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