EXTEND YOUR NECK
David Blandy, Marcus Coates, HK119, William Hunt, Mark McGowan, Guiseppe Mistretta, Alison O'Daniel, Claire Shallcross, Trouble Squad

Extend Your Neck is an exhibition at Cafe Gallery Projects and a programme of performances at The Event, a free festival in the surrounding Southwark Park on Sat 7 July 2007.

Performance acts as a catalyst to communicate with others, rousing our spontaneity and causing us to act on instinct. Expanding on notions of what performance art is, Extend Your Neck uses language borrowed from different genres of entertainment. Highlighting cultural issues that at times create jarring or satirical insights into the world around us, the artists utilise performance not just as a form of expression but as a tool to address ideas and issues. Both the gallery and surrounding park are used as environments to present the exhibition, so the work exists in different contexts, extending how it is perceived. Like the performances of Andy Kaufman in which he stretched restrictions of genre, location, duration and content, Extend Your Neck baffles, as it embraces the unconventional in an attempt to test the norm.

Extend Your Neck introduces two new commissioned pieces by HK119 and William Hunt. Both artists have created structures that act as both stages and essential mechanisms for them to interact with. Within the gallery, HK119 merges live music performance and gallery-based installation, creating an environment that questions the role of the spectator. William Hunt’s musical performance takes place outside in the sculpture space using materials normally associated with the garden that he has altered to make instruments.

Marcus Coates takes influences from Eastern and Western rituals and skills, blending aspects of human behaviour with animal instinct. Coates presents himself as a Shaman, using humour as a basis for his performances to raise issues which entrance and mystify his audiences.

Mark McGowan uses modest materials to execute durational, and often physically demanding, performances which address cultural issues in a sincere yet candid way. Attracting media attention due to the spectacle that his work creates, he constantly sways between a working man’s hero and the taxpayer’s worst enemy.

By constructing a dialogue with a place or person, Giuseppe Mistretta attempts to contort the banal into something romantic. Considering perceptions of beauty, the ephemeral moments primarily exist in the imagination of the viewer.

Trouble Squad take issues that society would rather not know about and turns them into modern day fables, with over the top characters and extreme scenarios, coaxing the audience to laugh and follow where they are led until they stumble across the stories’ somber messages.

Documenting men within staged environments, Claire Shallcross and Alison O’Daniel place themselves within highlighted scenarios, exploring invisible sexual boundaries and clichés. The artists and the men they collaborate with alternate roles of power and vulnerability, giving the viewer a fleeting look at how men and women communicate in contemporary Western culture.

David Blandy imitates and recontextualises his influences, ranging from soul music to kung fu films. Stepping into the shoes of the original performers, Blandy questions how much of who we are is taken from popular culture.