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Swing Gang

13 July 09 words: Sanjay Brown
"If you’re going to survive out there, you’ve really got to know where your towel is."
Rachel Reupke's Swing Gang at Moot Gallery
Rachel Reupke's Swing Gang at Moot Gallery

‘If you’re going to survive out there, you’ve really got to know where your towel is.’ 

So said Douglas Adams, repository of much British wisdom when it comes to life. And there is certainly something instinctively stirring when it comes to the humble common household towel. Friendly P.E. accomplice, bath time confidente, cousen to the utilitarian tea towel, there is a love affair rolling through time with the cotton woven moisture absorber that represents the deeper pitch of man’s life among objects.

Rachel Reupke’s Swing Gang exhibit is a collection of towels arranged to represent different scenarios, laid out flat as per the beach, folded and rolled neatly as per the gym and hotel or splayed across the floor as per student. These aforementioned pieces are accompanied by a set of search terms displayed individually above each collection, phrases used by the artist while sourcing stock video footage containing towels, ‘loneliness, depression, 20 seconds or greater’.

Within this evocative combination emerges some aesthetic sense of modern life viewed almost as evidence in some csi-esque triple murder scene, left in the past with only the faint smell of sweat or some other execretion giving the viewer a half-idea of the close life, cycle of use and equivical human intimacy that lingers in each towel. The different schema play out diffferent roles for the shadow-plays that preceded, tourists in the sun, hotel guests or fragrant lovers in a hurry.

Moot again scores points for me as an art space, the conciously sparse lay-out provides a real boost to the piece, drawing an obvious contrast between the visceral yet peripheral towel existence and the solid concrete wall and floor. There is also an element of humour present, the flimsy existential nature of the towel (as Adams uses it too) presented in the dark tones of serious modern art a la Hirst’s Cow.

Whether this collection has the weight to make any lasting impression with an audience is more of a persian rug dichtomy than something for the fainting towel but the thought is sound, the visuals pleasingly blended and presented and a smile never hurts. 

Swing Gang by Rachel Reupke is on at the Moot Gallery until Sunday 19 July


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