Home » One Week in London & Geoffrey Farmer at the Barbican

One Week in London & Geoffrey Farmer at the Barbican

I’m just back from a week’s holiday in London. I skipped the Venice Biennale this year – you can’t do everything, though I hear it was pretty great – and instead we spent time with our friends. A full week in London was a rare treat.

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The St. Martins College building at King’s Cross, with cool silver zig zag. All images VoCA.

There wasn’t much on in the way of art, since many galleries were between shows, and we missed the media preview for the Serpentine Pavilion by one day! But it made for a more relaxing holiday.

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Geoffrey Farmer, The Surgeon and the Photographer, at the Barbican in London.

Some highlights of the week were seeing that cool silver zig zag across the brick on the St. Martins College of Art building at King’s Cross, a wonderful exhibition of new work by sculptor Rachel Whiteread at Gagosian’s King’s Cross gallery, wandering around the permanent collection at Tate Modern, the fun street art off Brick Lane in London’s East End (see my Twitter feed) and an amazing show of Outsider Art from Japan.

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But my favorite was seeing Vancouver artist Geoffrey Farmer’s installation of paper doll figures, The Surgeon and the Photographer, at the Barbican’s Curve gallery. The Guardian strangely calls Farmer’s figures ‘puppets’, but to me they aren’t puppets at all. A puppet is something that you make work with your hands, either via the body of the figure or from the top, like a marionette.

Farmer’s figures are three dimensional collages. They are made of paper and are very delicate. What makes them interesting is that spacers are used to create dimension, and Farmer plays with scale very effectively, giving a neat push-pull effect. And there are just so many of them – hundreds, for sure – all crowded together. For better photos (I had to sneak mine), click HERE and select ‘view images’.

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So there I was: amazed, intrigued and perplexed as I walked through the exhibition. At the end, there’s a film made up of a series of faces, objects, details that morph slowly into one another. That’s when you wonder if Farmer is trying to collapse the world, or culture, or civilization, or the 20th century, into his figures.

And that’s when you realize that he’s actually been pretty successful.

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Stills from the film at the end of Farmer’s exhibition in the Curve.

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