Becks Futures catalogue by Claire Doherty

Becks Futures catalogue by Claire Doherty
shortlisted artists review, p.127

ISBN 1-900300-50-8

There is a line at the beginning of a novel by Jon McGregor (If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things, 2002) which describes the brief pause before night turns into day – “It’s the briefest of pauses, with not time enough to even turn full circle and look at all the lights this city throws out to the sky, and it’s a pause which is easily broken. A slamming door, a car alarm, a thin drift of music from half a mile away, and already the city is moving on, already tomorrow is here.” This is the territory of Anthony Shapland’s most interesting projects.

Well-known for his direction of the G39 artspace in Cardiff, Shapland has recently displayed a maturity in his own artistic practice, revealed in his capacity to find something remarkable in the mundane details of the nocturnal city. Two of the most interesting works are Rise (2003) and Nocturne (2004-5). Rise captures the moment a street lamp switches on at dusk. The lamp warms up from an initial spark, moving through grey light into an orange glow. Nocturne (2004-5) is a two-channel video installation which tracks night-time activity around a street doorway. Whilst some hilarious and surreal actions result – my favourite being the shadow thrown by the hen party, a kind-of mutant tart-rabbit – by scripting the action and dialogue on the adjacent screen, Shapland emphasises the small repetitive acts that flit between humanity and inhumanity. Shapland’s recent work stands out – it convinces through its subtle use of the camera as an instrument of stillness and investigation.