“My name is Colonel Billie Faye Woodward of the United States Air Force...It is my knowledge, through my Guide Zora, an Inner Earth scientist who is 150,000 years old, that my Sister and myself are originally from the Inner Earth...”
Andrew Norman Wilson is a joker. Silly jokes, bad-taste jokes, offensive jokes, jokes that pun the blindingly obvious... It's easy to be with someone who always has a genuine and earnest smile. And the same applies to his work. Wilson often takes a first-person approach towards the concepts that he explores. These may be very complex concepts that address the contemporary legacies of a historical situation or perhaps those that look at the effects of technology on society. But the point of his work is that he becomes our guide through these examinations, giving his personal opinions and interpretations as they emerge.
Sometimes though, he isn't our guide. For example, in his work Uncertainty Seminar (2012-13), our guide was a chow-chow – a fluffy show dog who was Sigmund Freud's companion in his late years, and who gave the audience his own doggy opinions about Freud's work. We see Wilson's current London show, Artificial Selection at Rowing Projects, through the eyes of a mosquito – because which other animal provides us with more a direct link to the beginning of life itself?
Artificial Selection (as opposed to 'natural selection', geddit? Yes, we did say some of his puns could be awful...) is a logical extension in Wilson's work, because it addresses historical concerns (if not the contemporary legacies of any given historical situation, then we could say the historic precursors that evolved and informed contemporary thinking about society) as well as looking at how technology has affected society, productively or otherwise.
This show is complex. He's talking about big themes: society and social change over the course of millennia! Wilson condenses everything into two videos, a wall-based work and a very useful and beautifully designed paper work that the gallery also distribute as very a non-standard press release. But don't let all these details intimidate you because this is a very simple and engaging show. And remember, you still have characters like the mosquito and the ever-present chow-chow (a Wilson staple) to help you read these past centuries of history and how it has shaped the present day.
Andrew Norman Wilson: Artificial Selection is at Rowing Projects until 16 January.