HOUSE and Photoworks present a new co-commission by Natasha Caruana for HOUSE Biennial 2017
University of Brighton Gallery, Edward Street
30 September - 5 November 2017
Timely Tale is a lens-based work set against a backdrop of love, desire and health in the age of ‘Excess’ – the theme for this year’s HOUSE Biennial. These topics are discussed in the artwork through the vehicle of the artist’s mother – Penny – and the audience will see the work in the setting of a ‘medical waiting room’.
To experience Penny’s story, viewers will be transported via the intimate waiting room into her bedroom through a short film capturing: recuperation, finding the right outfit, storing medication and looking for the perfect online partner. The piece addresses the idea of choice and how, in the long run, too much choice can often lead to decision-making paralysis.
Natasha Caruana explains, “We assume that more choice means better options and greater satisfaction. Excess choice can make you question the decisions you make before you even make them and present unrealistically high expectations. We might endlessly feel guilty that we are not making the right choices, and that’s why we didn’t succeed. We are anxious that we are not good enough – working or spending hours on remaking ourselves.”
Timely Tale is a comment on the current social and political landscape we live in but also an observation of how the photographic frame, with the advent of new technology, is dramatically changing for the first time. The work is viewed through headsets and Timely Tale uses the 360° technologies to empower the audience to look around the artwork with choice of what to see. Viewers can turn their heads to the right to observe the taking of prescription pills or to the left to see what’s displayed on the television screen.
The narrative running throughout the artwork is the story of excess but also of consequence. It addresses NHS cuts, pharmaceutical price inflation, the pressure to find ‘Mr. Right’, and the impact the barrage of young and beautiful images can have on mental health and consumer choices. Particularly, perhaps, for the older woman (Penny), handling the ageing of her own body.
HOUSE Biennial Curator and Director of Photoworks, Celia Davies, commented, “This year’s theme of Excess for HOUSE Biennial feels timely – we witness the consequences of excess and its impact every day with increasing magnitude. All the artists in HOUSE Biennial have made diverse responses to this year’s theme that often focus in on personal, smaller stories, but with situations that scale up to relate to our bigger shared experience of the world.
Natasha Caruana’s proposal is original, inquisitive and inventive. Her work underlines how photography, and our consumption of it, is ever shifting. Timely Tale tells a story of excessive choice and the consequences for an individual.”
Natasha’s new co-commission is part of HOUSE Biennial which moves from an annual May slot to October for the first time in 2017 and to a biennial format.
HOUSE Biennial Director, Judy Stevens, said “This commission will be an integral part of HOUSE Biennial’s strong visual arts offer for Brighton & Hove, bringing a new dimension to the city’s Autumn cultural calendar through providing a range of thematically linked commissioning opportunities for artists, both established and emerging.”
Photoworks work with HOUSE Biennial as a co-commissioning partner, to produce a lens-based co-commission, as part of HOUSE Biennial, which will alternate with Brighton Photo Biennial.
This HOUSE Biennial and Photoworks co-commission is also supported by University for the Creative Arts at Farnham.