the art of heather phillipson

Article00Martin Herbert at Artforum:

ARTIST RECITES POEM. That sounds bad, even given the past decade’s bed-hopping between the literary and visual art establishments. But let’s establish Phillipson’s bona fides. She has won a prestigious award for poets under thirty; had her first collection published, to acclaim, by Faber & Faber in 2009; and has since published two more, NOT AN ESSAY (2012) and Instant-flex 718 (2013). She discovered her writerly aptitude while studying art in London: Focusing on audio works and performance, she took a module in creative writing and fell for poetry—particularly the New York School (itself reciprocally involving a proto-Pop impulse toward linguistic assemblage). In parallel with her writing, and stemming from visual backdrops created for poetry readings, Phillipson makes videos—digitally driven, candy-colored, texturally shifting, kinetic, talky, and associative—and, since 2011, has been conflating them with elaborate sculptural environments.

These projects have steadily grown in scope. For example, her recent show at Plymouth Arts Centre in Devon, UK, “TRUE TO SIZE”—which opened early this past summer, during the hallucinatory moment of the country’s vote for Brexit—featured seven videos embedded in an eponymous colorful, nerve-jangling multipart installation, dated 2016, that intermingled eBay-sourced, sad-eyed, made-in-China bears, more umbrellas, and blown-up cutouts of various emojis: rainbow backdrops, flames, falling leaves, Holbeinesque anamorphic skulls, cigarettes, raindrops, clouds, tsunamis, blood-filled syringes, and nosediving planes. You navigated gingerly through these jutting artifacts toward the short digital films.

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