curtain call, variations on a folly (Production Image) (2021). Image courtesy the artist.

Chisenhale Gallery is pleased to present curtain call, variations on a folly, a new commission by Montréal-based artist Abbas Akhavan.

For his Chisenhale Gallery commission, Akhavan develops his ongoing research into the relationship between chroma key green screen technology and cob, an ancient building material made of subsoil, water and straw. A large chroma key green stage with an infinity wall fills the gallery and hosts a series of sculptures made of cob. The cob installation is built in the image of the colonnade that once approached the monumental Arch of Palmyra, a 2,000-year-old heritage site in Syria. The arch is thought to have been destroyed by Islamic State militants in 2015, and subsequently replicated in marble by the UK-and US-based Institute of Digital Archaeology using 3D imaging technology.

curtain call, variations on a folly (2021). Installation view, Chisenhale Gallery, London, 2021. Commissioned and produced by Chisenhale Gallery, London. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Andy Keate
curtain call, variations on a folly (2021). Installation view, Chisenhale Gallery, London, 2021. Commissioned and produced by Chisenhale Gallery, London. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Andy Keate
curtain call, variations on a folly (2021). Installation view, Chisenhale Gallery, London, 2021. Commissioned and produced by Chisenhale Gallery, London. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Andy Keate
curtain call, variations on a folly (2021). Installation view, Chisenhale Gallery, London, 2021. Commissioned and produced by Chisenhale Gallery, London. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Andy Keate

The chroma key green screen and cob used in the exhibition sit at opposite ends of the material spectrum. Cob is an organic, ancient form of construction, and chroma key compositing is one of the most ubiquitous visual effects tools used to construct digital images. Shifting perception through the manipulation of visual and sonic perspectives, Akhavan’s installation acts as a potential portal, where the green screen stage repositions the cob sculptures as placeholders that have the possibility to exist in any given space.

curtain call, variations on a folly (2021). Installation view, Chisenhale Gallery, London, 2021. Commissioned and produced by Chisenhale Gallery, London. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Andy Keate
curtain call, variations on a folly (2021). Installation view, Chisenhale Gallery, London, 2021. Commissioned and produced by Chisenhale Gallery, London. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Andy Keate

A text has been painted on the roof of Chisenhale Gallery and Chisenhale Studios. Visible mostly to birds, drones, from aeroplanes and taller neighbouring buildings, large letters cover the entire roof reading: ‘CAT’S PAW’, an idiom derived from Jean de La Fontaine’s 1679 fable The Monkey and The Cat. The roof painting will fade with time, and the cob and timber used in the installation will be composted and repurposed after the exhibition.

CAT’S PAW (2021). Aerial view, Chisenhale Gallery, London, 2021. Commissioned and produced by Chisenhale Gallery, London with support from Concrete Projects. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Ali Sadeghian
CAT’S PAW (2021). Aerial view, Chisenhale Gallery, London, 2021. Commissioned and produced by Chisenhale Gallery, London with support from Concrete Projects. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Ali Sadeghian

The exhibition is on vew until the 17th of October 2021

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