James Richards works across moving image, sound and installation to create complex, multilayered works of extraordinary intensity. Combining video and audio that he shoots or records himself, with found material salvaged from a variety of sources, he explores the often latent, emotive power of images and sound.
Richards builds his works up intuitively, invariably starting from disparate fragments or streams of footage. Treating these various recordings as a raw material, his work might be seen as an ongoing investigation into the processes and creative potential of re-staging or re-showing content.
Often his works involve a repetitive or cyclical structure, with passages of video or sound reappearing and folding back into a number of different works. Richards has spoken about the potential for creating mood, emotion or meaning through the sequencing and juxtaposition of video and audio:
“I want to assemble things that push and pull ones feelings, rather than sticking to single points or statements. Moving from high drama to the erotic, from the violent to the banal, it’s the specifics of these sensations that I’m trying to tap, while working very precisely with the shifts and interruptions, climaxes and anticlimaxes, as well as the confusions and resolutions that can occur when disparate elements convene over time…
There was a period around 2009 when I was gathering a lot of VHS tapes from charity shops in London; they were cheap, plentiful, ten for a pound. I would scoop them up and sit in my studio, going kind of numb, watching on fast forward — waiting for a moment or glimpse of something that would snap out at me, that would stick. Its from these moments that a work would start to form”
For his exhibition at Bergen Kunsthall, Richards is making a newly commissioned work that will occupy all of the Kunsthall galleries. Rather than working in a single or multi-screen format, Richard’s will, for the first time, create an installation that is ‘smeared and spread across multiple rooms’.
Composing the work in space as well as time, the images and soundtrack will be separated out and installed across the rooms, implicating the viewers and their own movements, as well as allowing for repetitions, déjà vu, and displaced juxtapositions — a kind of ‘chiming’ across the variously dispersed elements of the work, as well as between the galleries themselves.
Employing rhythmic musical and visual cues, as well as bespoke fabric room-dividers, the work will comprise a complex, choreographed composition of sound, music and video, articulated and arranged in direct response to the architecture itself.
“Crumb Mahogany” is co-commissioned by Bergen Kunsthall, ICA London and Kestnergesellschaft, Hannover, where it will travel through 2016. In each of the institutions it will be reconfigured and adapted for the particular architectural environment of the galleries.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a new publication launched in Autumn 2016.
James Richards (b. 1983) is a British artist based in Berlin.