I have many clever chums, but right now the cleverest of them all is Lee Goater with his exhibition Faces, the Anatomy of Autonomy at Leeds Gallery (Munro House), running 30 September to 21 October 2013.
Faces is an ongoing personal project by Lee. He started in 2012, creating responsible magnetic street-art for sharing and anonymously distributed 180 polaroid sized magnets around the UK. I even found one at Leeds College of Art when staring out the window whilst guillotining paper in the library (no fingers were lost in the process).
Initially only eight characters were created, but the numerous interpretations by the people that found them led Lee to further question the idea of self, which in turn formed the proposition for the exhibition.
With Faces he aims to question the difference between who we are and how we are perceived. Lee raises many really interesting questions: Do people perceive us the way intend? Are we the same person to our friends and families as to our colleagues and acquaintances? Are we the same person in the actual and virtual worlds we occupy? Do people make assumptions about and judge us at face value? At the end of the day, are any of us really that different?
The modular style of the faces reinforces this questioning, making it seem as if by chance some people got a beard and others don’t, that some share the same eyes, while others are different in every way.
It was really refreshing to visit an exhibition that was fine art orientated with underlying pretentiousness; it packed a punch with its black and white palette, bold graphic style, and relatable content. It made me realise how sucky some fine art exhibitions can be, and that my interests lie on the more commercial end of the scale.
There were many interactive elements to engage you in the subject matter and materials – magnetic face board, make your own faces stamps and stencils, and a printing press. New media was also cleverly integrated with a free app available and hashtags featuring heavily in the interpretation and promotion. You could see the influence of Lee’s work as a brand consultant and creative director running through the show, making not only an exhibition but an event with the end user in mind.
The exhibition was developed with numerous partners and it was lovely to see them all acknowledged as key to the process, as no artist it truly an island! From the making of the paper to the craft of bookbinding to the printing process, each is an art on its own and comes together with the idea to make the finished product.