As you walk down the stairs of Seventeen gallery, there is a sign that warns of an uneven floor: “enter at your own risk”. I take my chances and find myself in the first room of an exhibition by Patrick Goddard, which has an underground club-like feel, though illuminated with the type of UV lighting as a way to deter intravenous drug use.
It’s hard to move without apprehension: the entire gallery floor is paved with highly uneven bricks. These concrete blocks are not a statement on what art is, or can be, in the manner of Carl Andre. Goddard’s blocks create a sense of potentially dangerous disorientation and bring to mind the hostile architecture used in many cities to prevent the homeless from sleeping rough. This sense of unease is further accentuated by the black and white slides from London Zoo that are being projected on the gallery’s dark walls: the close-ups of the animals, the serene lake and the happy family shots convey a selective nostalgia that is violently interrupted by pounding “Drill” music that bleeds in from the next room.
In the second exhibition gallery and still walking on deterrent bricks, one is confronted with a life-size projection of the artist, irreverently dancing. “You are still in bed at ten but your work began at eight” he sings, and dances on and on. Frustration, imploding anger, nihilism, exhaustion.
Stylistically inconsistent and conceptually unflinching, Patrick Goddard’s works match our incongruent lives and reflect urban culture today. In modern cities where landscape, language and emotions are monitored, mediated and controlled, how can one smash the system without being smashed? Real Estates, the title of the exhibition, refers to the world around us and our present state of being, but also extends to our state of mind. And although modern-day utopias are easily dismissed as nostalgic reverberations, the author, the artist – any artist – can still fantasise about them. And then be the one to deliriously shatter them.
Curator of Programmes
Seventeen, 270-276 Kingsland Road, London E8 4DG. Open Wednesday-Saturday 11.00-18.00. Exhibition continues until 23 March 2019. www.seventeengallery.com