Santiego's Dead Wasp Write-Up of SAFE

Matt Dalby has written about the Super Awesome Fun Exhibition in his blog Santiego’s Dead Wasp:

On Wednesday Super Awesome Fun Exhibition [SAFE] opened at Kraak. It’s the first time I’ve been to Kraak since Queer in August.
The exhibition has a definite handmade feel to it. Anecdotally this seems to be part of a movement toward a humanisation and increased emotional intelligence in art that seems to be happening at present.
Right in front of you as you enter the space and reaching into all parts is a complex cats-cradle of thin nylon rope. This I believe is the work of Dominic O’Grady, one of four artists in the show. Whether you think of a natural form like cobwebs, or an unnatural form like a ship’s rigging, of the order of a three-dimensional model of an interconnected online world, or of the insanity at the heart of Patrick McGrath’s Spider (or David Cronenberg’s film with it’s great performance from Ralph Fiennes), there’s no doubt the piece is richly allusive.
It’s also perhaps easily ignored. Although that might have been the presence of a tv crew lighting the space more strongly than would otherwise be the case. Later when they’d gone it seemed like the lights fell mostly on the centre of the arrangement drawing your eye more effectively.
Closer to the entrance and running counter-clockwise across half the space are super-inflated reproductions of photographs each made up of dozens of A4 sheets collaged together. These are of handmade instruments and modifications to instruments taken by Florian Fusco during his interviews with sound artists and musicians across the northwest during his recent residency at Kraak.
At least two of the photos are of Paddy Steer‘s equipment. If you’re not familiar with Paddy’s work you really should be so take a few minutes to check out that link even if you don’t follow any of the others.
My understanding is that the photos and interviews will be published in some form reasonably soon and should make an interesting snapshot of quite a vigorous scene. Maybe it’s just through being involved in things but I get the sense that there are thriving music/sound scenes, visual/installation/performance art scenes, literary scenes and other creative scenes across the north of England at present.
After these huge images there’s a more modest red velvet drape which at the opening had a sign by it saying that it was for a photographic project by Zak HaHa. Nothing was happening at the opening and I rather like the idea of an installation promising an endlessly deferred action that never happens. However I suspect that after the opening photos will be taken in front of this red drape.
Continuing anti-clockwise around the space which seems to be the logical route to follow is a giant three-dimensional cardboard eeek! This was made by Florian Fusco for one of the club nights at Kraak. As well as impressing with its sheer size and just being quite a fun piece it’s an impressive feat of making in itself.
Another nice bit of card making by Florian are the shades on the lights around the space directing the light onto the works. These are not just ragged bits of card taped to the fittings but quite elegant pieces that appear manufactured specifically for the purpose. Which of course they are.
Florian is also responsible along with Zak HaHa for the next work, twee porn wank booth. I don’t want to spoil the experience of this piece for you so I won’t describe it until after the exhibition closes on 22 December. Suffice to say a black drape partitions off a booth in which a chair faces a large screen television. There’s only room for one person in the booth at any one time.
The next piece I assume is Rebecca Manley’s. To be honest a description of the piece won’t really do it any favours. This was not my favourite work but I suspect that may have been partly the context and partly my feeling that it seemed like a sketch towards another piece of work. On the other hand it seemed most like the kind of work I’d expect to see in a more broadsheet-friendly show in a larger gallery.
The umbrella bit of an umbrella (minus the handle) rested on the floor. Blue-painted wooden sticks suspended from the ceiling resembling cartoon rain hung above it. Next to the umbrella and just out of the pool of light was a red pyramid. The scene was perhaps a stoic Mancunian going about their daily business despite their complete immersion from the biblical rain. The pyramid then the top of a gatepost? Or perhaps it’s something else.
Finally a photo, I think one of two that were periodically changed, of a child in pastoral summer scenes is projected on the wall. The piece is called Sister and is by Zak HaHa. The interplay of photos and title seems simple but may not be all it seems. There’s no indication when the photos were taken or by whom. It wasn’t especially clear whether the child is a girl or not which would have implications for what the title means.
I like the exhibition and the way the works interact with each other. I like the fact there’s a sense of humour about it that I haven’t reflected at all in my description. I like the handmade feeling and the sense that real people were involved in the making.