Mexico Project Space, Leeds

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It’s funny how long it can take you to discover new things even when they’re right on the doorstep. The Mexico Project Space in Leeds is a case in point.

Established less than a year ago by a group of ten young artists and curators, it’s an absolutely amazing art space which is set to make a valuable contribution to the Leeds Art Scene.

The current exhibition, Title To Be Decided, sets out to not

“…seek to prove, define or theorise. It simply wishes to present artists work, affording the audience the time and space to make sense of it for themselves. Nothing within the exhibition space will remain static, works will be created, transformed and destroyed…”

I happened to arrive and miss the bits of paper at the entrance with this information. So I initially encountered the unlabeled and untitled works in a supremely uncontextualised and uninformed state. It’s an interesting experience to do this. Bereft of any customary touchstones or entry points, I find myself with a vast array of questions and reflections. And then when I finally get the information about who’s done what and what it’s called, a further multitude of thoughts and considerations emerge all calling for response of one sort or another.

To take just one example, I was struck by some pretty dire paintings hung or propped at intervals around the space. Not obviously by the same hand and sufficiently distanced from each other to not necessarily be connected. In fact, it transpired these pieces were all the contribution of Rory Macbeth, an artist whose work I really like. So having viewed the works in my “ignorant” state and been dismissive of the paintings, I was then greatly disconcerted by discovering their association with Macbeth. I don’t know still if they were his paintings or found works: I have to suspect the latter, but I don’t know, and I find this aspect intriguing and disturbing in equal measure. And then I’m forced to confront and evaluate the process of transforming a painting into a contemporary artwork simply by its placement within a gallery context, and this inevitably sets off a series of ever-more frustrating circular reflections on the nature of contemporary art. And that’s just for starters.

And then how do I feel about the fact that this artwork is all about this whole questioning process? And that it is ultimately really fascinating? Although a part of me is screaming inside, No, No, No? It defies logic.

Anyway, the exhibition is set to transform itself over the next few weeks. Bits will be added, changed, taken away. For all I know, these paintings will be cut, turned around, stamped on or obliterated.

It’s an admirable marketing technique to announce the changing nature of an exhibition, but also a genuinely interesting concept. Although it was my first visit to the space, I think I really have to make time to go back and see how it looks in a week or so. I like fluidity and change. It resonates with all my reading of the last few weeks on adaptation and obliquity. I will want to know of course if changes are responsive or already planned, and I’m sure I won’t find out, but never mind.

It’s absolutely worth going to have a look.

And a big cheer for the dynamism and enthusiasm and vision of this inspirational curating group. I’ve already subscribed to the mailing list.

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