“At Kelly Richardson’s show ‘Legion’ at the NGCA in Sunderland we are presented with a number of major landscape works. Very quickly we become aware that these worlds operate under their own internal logic. For example in works such as ‘Exiles of the Shattered Star’ (2006) meteors fall from the sky like rain. In ‘The Erudition’ (2010) we are presented with a lunar-like landscape; across the terrain holographic trees flicker into and out of life. In this piece time seems to be elastic, the landscape is primordial (as it is elsewhere in the show) but the trees specifically suggest an unrealised future. Is there no such thing as a ‘real’ tree in this world’ Is it impossible to grow here’ If artists are generous in their visions then this is where the facade of Godlikeness will fade. It is the space that they leave for us where we can begin to add our own readings of what is going on. The strength of Richardson’s work is that the reasoning is left up to us….”
“Richardson continues these ideas in her major new commission ‘Mariner 9’ (2012) currently on display at Whitley Bay’s historic Spanish City Dome. This stunning 12 metre-long panoramic installation, depicts a dark vision of Mars. Here we find the landscape littered with the detritus, or more like, the dying, prostate bodies of previous explorer craft, twitching in their last moments of life. Presumably the current probe, ‘Curiosity’ will join this ‘elephants’ graveyard’ of human exploration. Again there is no reason given for the demise of these machines; it is up to us to decide if it was a Martian fight-back or a failed attempted at colonisation of the red planet. In a sense these attempted explorations, the desire to extend human knowledge (and therefore power), are Godlike attempts to capture information – to become all-knowing. But as Kelly suggests in this work, we are not gods; we are human, weak, full of hubris. But here, where the facade and the attempt to control our world falls away, it leaves a space for the unknown or unplanned to emerge.”
Text: James Smith, Mariner 9 and Legion by Kelly Richardson, This Is Tomorrow.
Pic: Kelly Richardson Mariner 9