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Andy Holden's "Song of Songs" solo show at Seventeen Gallery

We collect so many things. Books, stones, postcards, figurines and memories...

In the beginning, they feel so important, so embodied within our lives. How could they ever end up in a pile of other forgotten things? Words, videos, jokes and photographs...

As many times before, the Seventeen Gallery completely transformed their space and changed art from objects on walls into a new world full of stories to discover.

When I was going down the stairs, hearing the song and seeing the darkness behind the gallery door, I knew that this exhibition would be different. The Song of Songs exhibition was divided into two parts. The first, more commercial one, was filled with big prints of distant galaxies with “googly” eyes, which touches on the concept of time by exploring the mystery of Space. The second room reminded me of a warm, homely study room devoted to materialising the feeling of the passage of time by arranging emotions, memories and objects after losing a loved one.

I had the pleasure of meeting Mr Holden when I came to see the show, and after our brief conversation, it became clear that, in this instance, the artist is art, and the art is the artist. The second room was filled with books with bent edges and underlined sentences, references to the artist’s earlier works, small rocks, bowls, carpets with the text from Flaubert Bouvard et Pecuchet, cute creatures and layers of colourful clay mass. As if a certain "energy" was seething from all these objects collected over the years. Mr Holden and I talked about whether the “final” piece is the true essence of the original idea or whether it’s the furthest point from it. I thought it was a brave exhibition - a shielding of one's experiences, despair and thoughts.

The first sentence of the exhibition text caught my attention the most (obviously). Finally, a gallery that decided not to use the phrase "we are very excited to present..." but instead announced that this is the artist's first exhibition in a commercial gallery in 15 years. I found it quite interesting; however, I also thought, “Is that the most important thing about the exhibition you want me to know?”. Nevertheless, the whole text was very clear, despite the rather complicated topics Mr Holden touches on in his practice.

Exhibitions like this one are the exact reason why I want to be in the art world. Sometimes in life, you meet people who understand entirely and complement you. Art works in a very similar way. It was almost too weird that I connected so profoundly with Mr Holden's practice. My bachelor's thesis was about metamodernism - you can read Elinor Morgan’s text about Mr Holden’s "Maximum Irony! Maximum Sincerity" manifesto on Notes On Metamodernism website - and for the last few years, I’ve been wondering what happened to the thinkers of that “movement”. I wonder whether this exhibition can be a return to those approaches to culture and life or a beginning of something new.


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