Southard Reid is proud to present Just About Managing, a new video by Edward Thomasson.
Thomasson, born Staffordshire 1985, lives and works in London. He completed his MA at the Slade in 2011 and was the first recipient of the Nina Stewart Artist Residency at the South London Gallery, culminating in his recent solo show Inside, (SLG, March-May 2012).
Just About Managing continues his investigation into performance in non-theatrical environments. Employing original spoken word, song and dance, a group of actors and non-actors assemble in various spaces to enact a blackly comic story concerning a man who is good at pretending.
The title, which also forms the chorus of Thomasson’s musical composition in the video, has at least two connotations; one alluding to the organisation of things, the other an emotional euphemism. The narrative presents a performed oscillation between these two potential meanings and sets up a questioning of the success of constructed performance attempting to enact distress.
Set in and around a primary school at the end of a summer term, the video sees a pupil read a composition aloud to his teacher while staff members participate in an elaborate group activity to celebrate the end of a difficult term. Elsewhere, a lone performer appears to be getting on with some home improvement. Though occupying separate surroundings, the cast seem complicit in the act of storytelling. Each performed scenario becomes a component in the construction of the visual and linguistic metaphors that form the building blocks of the narrative.
At the heart of the video is an investigation into pretence and make-believe, into the difference between what actually is and what appears to be. The manufacturing of surface reality is literalised through the main protagonist’s action. Its educational setting and child narration of an adult’s story supports the exposition of this gulf between reality and the management of it. The realm of childhood imagination is juxtaposed with the strategic construction of a lifestyle pretence. The repetitive, almost chanted form of the sung refrain - Just About Managing - aligns it with nursery rhymes and their inherent behavioural warnings, chiming with the pupil’s recitation of what is perhaps a cautionary tale.
Thomasson’s recent solo exhibitions include Inside, South London Gallery, Find A Problem to Solve, Furini Arte Contemporanea, Rome, 2012. Group shows include One Another’s Company, IMT Gallery, London, 2011, New Contemporaries, The A Foundation, Liverpool / ICA, London, 2010. Thomasson also collaborates with Lucy Beech on performances. Recent performances include Open House, South London Gallery, 2012,Seven Year Itch, Barbican, London, 2011, Holding It Together, Modern Art Oxford, 2010. Their forthcoming performance Fire in the Belly, will be presented as part of Belleville Biennale 2012, Paris.