A shoebox |
A picture of a cyclist |
A modest collection of pins depicting birds |
A bird’s egg |
The title of Daniel Hollier’s exhibition Shoe Box Pantomime refers to his childhood collection of ephemera housed in a shoebox and the theatricality and artifice of exhibition making. Through exhibition the artist can present a reality or the appearance of a reality that can recreate or reformat the past. Incarnating a little world in a shoebox or white cube based on collected autobiographical and art historical reference points.
For Hollier, an aspiring childhood cyclist - a ‘tail whip’ – a trick where a BMX rider would brake the front wheel and spin the frame of the bike underneath them, was a key childhood goal. A goal that was ultimately unachievable due to the need for a specialised freestyle bike fitted with a rotor that prevents the brake cables tangling up. The central work of this exhibition Red Bird Blue Bird, Blue Bird Red Bird (2015) recreates this momentum of the tail whip in a sculptural form comprising a paired down BMX bicycle frame constantly spinning through space. Clear references to Duchamp are immediately recognisable but with a focus on the frame as opposed to the absent wheel. The inner frame of the bike reflects the geometric paintings that Hollier is perhaps best known for - a study in form that repositions function from the transportational and recreational to the objective. The upper tube of the bike protected by a pad that also belies its intended purpose as a safety feature which transitions into a painted form with direct reference to painting in the expanded field.
The artist’s childhood love of birds is reflected in a sculptural work that plays with the functionality of a birdhouse. Potentially too narrow to accommodate all but the smallest of birds, the sculpture is flattened like a theatrical set, if viewed from front on it has the form of a birdhouse but when considered from any other viewing angle its artifice is revealed, an unnecessarily elongated perch reaffirming the redundancy of the form.
For Hollier, humour is employed in execution but there also exists pathos in the work that reflects its autobiographical starting point - a sense of failure at not achieving his twin childhood goals of becoming a professional cyclist and ornithologist. As an artist, Hollier is afforded the opportunity to incorporate all these elements into a new collection of objects that is just as hopeful and immediate as the treasured objects contained in a dusty shoebox.