Dreams Without Frontiers, the new exhibition at Manchester Art gallery’s Manchester Gallery, presents an exciting exploration into the cultural history and landscape of the city. The exhibition, curated by DJ and journalist Dave Haslam and featuring work by paris-born artist Cyrien Gaillard and New York-based artist Kelley Walker, investigates themes of urban decay, post-modern alienation, cultural identity in the city as well globally, and explores representations of homophobia in extracts from the press in the 1980s. Gaillard’s film The Smithsons is an elegy to a certain form of modernist utopian architecture. The footage itself beautifully juxtaposes brutalist concrete tower blocks against a foreground of greenery and sea, accompanied by the haunting Smiths song lullaby. Combining the music of The Smiths with footage of New Jersey tower blocks, the film questions whether only Manchester could have produced music reflecting the effects of urban decay and isolation. Walker’s installation comprises clippings from popular media, visual language and album artwork that forms complex connections that explore various aspects of popular culture. His work addresses themes of dissemination, seriality and authenticity through images of Andy Warhol, a vicar in a tutu and a priest bent on killing his gay son. The rich tapestry of inter-woven cultural icons pairs well with the poignant video installation of Gaillard – both representing the history and landscape of music and popular culture over the last 40 years, from America to the north-west.

Until 1 May 2013, Manchester Art Gallery, Mosley Street, M2 3JL, Tel: 0161 235 8888, Mon -Sun 10am-5pm, FREE, www.manchestergalleries.org

James Wise
Published on:
Fri 20 Jul 2012