Emma Hart



Private View Thursday 10th March 2011, 6.30-9pm
Open Friday-Sunday 12-6pm, or by appointment

The camera, although an inanimate object, has a life of its own within Emma Hart’s video works. She lures the viewer into reconsidering its inherent power. Prodding and interfering with its subject matter, Hart’s camera demands immediacy.  In Hart’s case the camera performs or acts on the world, not the artist or the subject.  It’s a question delineated by a physical tug-of-war between two film projectors pulling at a tangled pile of 16mm film in her collaborative work with artist, Benedict Drew, ‘Untitled 4’. In May 2009 Hart presented ‘Sliding Holes’ at Cell Project Space, a performance lecture, testing our perception of the dimensional qualities of the flat surface and the projected image through layers of mediation. Hart's highly investigative practice deploys a set of processes, which explicitly rely on unpredictable outcomes occurring. As a result she directly questions conventional understanding of recording devices. It is through Hart interrogating the operations of the camera that she recasts the natural as strange.  For JAM the camera is rejected as passive apparatus and plays an active role as a performative catalyst within the work.

The exhibition presents 3 works where the camera becomes the protagonist. ‘LOST’, 2009 – 2011, Hart maintains this is a new use for the camera. It reveals a super-sized view into the crevices of our domestic world. By pushing the video camera into awkward places then looking at what appears on its screen Hart can see what has been lost. The work ruptures our relationship with the familiar and mundane by exploding this experience into high definition and stereophonic sound. The camera excavates unforeseeable treasure, by its bizarre and insistent foraging to unveil the spoils underneath a sofa. ‘Car Crash’, 2011 a series of photographic still lives, will be shown in the gallery’s rear space. Hart asked people about car crashes they had been in. If they used objects in front of them to describe the crash, she took a photograph. The work presents a conversation through a camera at a dining table. Hart uses the camera to transform areas of the tabletop into a mini landscape as cutlery and dinnerware are carefully placed to describe more violent scenes of road traffic collisions. ‘Dice’, 2009 reinforces the artist’s willingness to let the camera perform. Throughout the footage we hear a voice, we catch sight of a hand, but the work suspends belief as the camera frame sets the arena for a game of dice with the sea. A simple cube of plastic comes face to face with the complex dynamics of a turbulent sea.

Emma Hart’s conceptual rigor is bound up with the brutal performance of the camera, so everyday locations are selected for their potential to transform and create a new dimension to our experience. In part Hart uses the mundane to inquire into ideas of the flawed and the failed. She skillfully confuses categories of the found and the made, the everyday and the extraordinary, the humorous and the melancholic. The deliberate bluntness of the work and often its narration propels the viewer immediately into a situation that needs to be scrutinised.

Hart transforms everyday objects and base materials into remarkable encounters that question our experience of the contemporary world.

Based in London, Emma Hart exhibits videos and live art installations. Her work has been presented at institutions including Tate Britain, Camden Arts Centre, Whitstable Biennale, Battersea Arts Centre, Dundee Contemporary Art Centre. Hart frequently collaborates with other artists, often with Benedict Drew and their work was part of Nought to Sixty at the ICA and ‘Untitled Seven’, at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, Toronto. Emma Hart is part of the art collective ‘The Work in Progress’ soon to ‘Reclaim the Mural’, an off-site commission for The Whitechapel Gallery, London. Selected for Bloomberg ‘New Contemporaries’ 2010, she recently exhibited at the A Foundation, Liverpool and ICA, London and will present a newly commissioned body of work in a solo presentation at Matts Gallery, London in September this year.