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Fine Art PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

Chisenhale Gallery Presents Janice Kerbel Kill the Workers

Chisenhale Gallery presents a major new commission by Janice Kerbel. Described by Kerbel as ‘a play for stage lights’, Kill the Workers! (2011) takes its cue from dramatic narrative but is executed solely by means of theatrical lighting. Open 1 April–15 May 2011.

Janice Kerbel, “Kill the Workers,” 2011.

Following the conventions and mechanics of stage lighting and dramatic genres and forms, Kerbel has written a cue script for lights in the vein of a mythic odyssey. Following the desire to be seen as light itself, rather than as light serving to illuminate form, a single ‘spotlight’ becomes the key protagonist on an epic journey of conflict and transformation to become one with the ‘worker’ lights, and to realise his dream of ‘open white’.

The piece condenses a 24-hour day-to-night structure into 24 minutes, within which dramatic tension and plot progression are conveyed through changes in the intensity, colour, pattern and direction of the stage lights. The work consists only of a lighting rig but the lights become both characters enacting scenes—’the farewell’, ‘lost in the forest’ or ‘dream interlude’—and technicians responsible for conjuring atmosphere.

Kill the Workers! ultimately disregards the conditions of theatre and its associated positioning of the audience, actors or the dramatic structures from which it is derived. Instead, a classic struggle is staged between the real and the symbolic through minimal spatial means. This work continues Kerbel’s interest in ‘theatrical performance and the desire to find form for things that cannot be seen but which conjure alternative states’.

Kerbel’s work is often produced in relation to existing logic systems, re-configuring the principle applications of organising structures to better define the relationship between reality, imagination and illusion. Her work ranges from installations to book projects, prints and audio works. In 2006, Kerbel wrote Nick Silver Can’t Sleep, a radio play for insomniacs produced by Artangel Interaction and broadcast on BBC Radio 3, starring Rufus Sewell and Fiona Shaw. Most recently, Kerbel presented Ballgame (2009–ongoing), for which she studied the language of baseball commentary in order to script a full 90-minute, 9-innings game for a voice actor.

Janice Kerbel (b.1969, Canada) lives and works in London. Recent solo exhibitions include Art Now, Tate Britain (2010); greengrassi, London (2009); Kitchener Waterloo Art Gallery, Canada (2009); Remarkable, Frieze Art Fair Projects (2007). Selected group exhibitions include Poor. Old. Tired. Horse., ICA, London (2009); Gartenstadt, Kunstverein Hildesheim (2009); Magic, Hayward Gallery Touring (2009); 1st at Moderna, Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2006). Her book, 15 Lombard St (2000), is published by Book Works, London.

Kill the Workers! (2011) is co-commissioned with Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe, Germany and will be presented there in a solo exhibition, 1 July–11 September 2011.

Chisenhale Gallery Exhibitions Partner 2011:
 Outset Contemporary Art Fund

Janice Kerbel’s exhibition is supported by The Henry Moore Foundation and Canada House Arts Trust.


Thursday 14 April, 7pm
Catherine Wood, Curator of Contemporary Art & Performance at Tate Modern, in conversation with Janice Kerbel.

Saturday 7 May, 2pm
Writer and artist Cally Spooner leads a tour of the exhibition.

Thursday 12 May, 7pm
At the invitation of Janice Kerbel, John Tilbury, pianist and member of pioneering improvisation group AMM, discusses his current recording project in which he interprets Samuel Beckett’s novella Worstward Ho.

All of these events are free but booking is strongly advised. Please contact [email protected] to make a reservation.

Chisenhale Gallery
64 Chisenhale Road
E3 5QZ

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