RATS IN THE HOSPITAL

9 December - 18 December

Installation Images


There's a certain level of horror to the truly banal. Your mind starts to play tricks on you just to alleviate the sense of boredom. I've worked a lot of very banal jobs in my time and many of them involved travelling the same bus route, one which reached a very sharp corner about seven minutes in, every time the bus reached that corner I used to hope that the driver would oversteer and the bus would tip over - it went on like that for years. An extended experience of the truly banal can do funny things to the mind.


Remember when job interviews meant that you had to sit outside an office alongside several other candidates? For some reason, so many professional situations (or situations interacting with professionals) involved sitting on these scratchy blue polyester chairs which seemed to be in every professional environment from school, to the dentist, to the backroom of the Tesco store in which I first found gainful employment. It implies the existence of a manufacturer and a retailer who produce something with the intention of being just ugly enough that it doesn't quite feel homely, just so uncomfortable that when you first sit down it feels quite nice but after ten minutes you can't sit still on - a sector of industry whose focus is on serving environments or situations who aim to appear comfortable but never actually quite become comfortable. There's something hellish in that, don't you think?


David Steans' work plays on the sense of horror that is borne out of disquieting moments, moments where holes are poked in the fabric of structure, bureaucracy and the social contract as they relate specifically to the British Suburban experience. In the eponymous work, Steans reflects the dull hangover of the stiff upper lip through the lens of Stephen King - all the while embracing the cold, farcical tone of classic British comedy.


Rats In The Hospital also marks the unveiling of a new body of work in the form of collage, exploring the themes of the artists' practice through static, cut paper compositions. Ranging from dense and colourful to more sparse arrangements, these new works act as visual companions to the tone established in the text, performance and media work. They exhibit various stages in the psychological transmogrification of Steans' other works, exhibiting displaced landscapes, gestating organic masses and odds and ends of drawing sat somewhere between druidic carving, arcane illustration and teenage scribbling.


The works on show here exist in the corner of the viewer's eye, taking joy in shifting form just slightly beyond what may be considered normal, playing with the entire notion of normality. The longer one spends with them, the more unruly they become - expanding amorphously across the space and the mind as the protagonist (in some cases, us) flaps hopelessly around attempting to contain the new-horror as it emerges.
They centre the viewer within a universe  that's part-Cronenberg and part-slapstick, exploiting early surrenders to horror-logic as a means of transforming notions of normality on an ever-expanding scale. The practice of yes, and-ing preying on the viewer's position within a contemporary art context to create new ways to explore the horrors of corporate life, suburbia and the social contract.