MEDITATIONS NO 5 2005
Gareth McConnell (1972 – )
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If the absence of people from McConnell’s meeting rooms suggests perhaps their users’ apotheosis, a different sort of absence is in play in his series Meditations(2004-5). Here, the artist shoots empty beds, their crumpled sheets resembling icebergs, mountains and stormy waters in what might be described as an exercise in the domestic sublime. Looking at these works, we get to thinking about bad dreams and hastily abandoned sex, of ailing bodies being rushed from bed to ambulance. It’s possible that such despair-inducing imaginings are the ‘Meditations’ of which McConnell’s title speaks, but there’s something about the shots’ calm blue light that makes me think that’s not so. Rather, the artist asks the viewer to let their thoughts wash over them in the manner of a sea, or a landscape, and accept that however negative they are, they will pass, as all things do. Beds, like bodies, or lives, are constantly made, unmade then made again. They are places of birth and death, passion and rest, sickness and recovery. As an emblem of McConnell’s work, the abandoned bed is perfect. His photographs are concerned with life, yes, but also a sort of after-life, the place where unrecoverable moments go once they’ve been separated from us by a shutter’s click, a sound as decisive as the ticking of a clock.
©Tom Morton, To be continued …, British Council 2005