Live Event: Thursday 13th March 7pm. Exhibition: 15 March - 23 March 2014
At the opening event, in a sculptural, custom-built arena within the gallery, Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighters took position as the dynamic core of the exhibition. These live happenings generated highly charged scenarios framed within artist duo ATOI’s sculptural practice. The exhilarating combination of minimal rules and indiscriminate striking and grappling techniques constitute the main characteristics of the full contact combat sport, infamously known as cage fighting. The fight was arranged to create a charged scenario and to deliberately create contrasting, subtle impacts from the immense force on their constructed environment.
ATOI suggest that these scenarios 'create an unbalance within the fighters’ intuitive structure'; inferring that the unfamiliar spaces and circumstances disturb their natural and instinctive approach to the sport. In the gallery, paths of pigment were laid down, forming the fighter’s pathway to reach the ring. These raw materials were introduced to create a duality within the situation and to visibly record the impact of the fight through unpredictable scuffs, marks and deposits. As such ATOI relinquish a level of control and authorship over the works. They evaluate the violent events in terms of the energy, tension, force and psychological dynamics generated, traces of which can be measured in the aftermaths of the fights. The live event has been documented and the resulting film footage screened throughout the duration of the exhibition.
Stimulus for their work arises from ATOI’s own conceived theory of "cull" (a process of selective slaughter within their work) their interest in housing or controlling the innate, creating psychological scenarios and also playing on theories within physics and geology; in particular the work of Geologist Bailey Willis and his mountain machine appliance. Willis was interested in the movement of land masses and developed a concept for how mountains are formed. When two tectonic plates collide, the immense forces from the plates crumple and breakup the layers of rock, creating colossal peaks and valleys. In relation to this theory the fighters act out the mechanics of forced confrontation; separate energies colliding to create unforeseen outcomes.
Film Still from Event
ATOI (Amy Thomas and Oliver Irvine) began working collaboratively six years ago after meeting at University College Falmouth. The duo formed over a shared vision of using sculpture as a means to create psychological situations. Their work comprises of installations, performances and sculptural environments. ATOI have produced immersive works at The Tanks, Tate Modern, as part of the ‘Art in Action’ series, 2012, and at the Garage Centre For Contemporary Culture, Moscow, 2011 and 2010. Their solo show ‘Playing in Storms’ was held at The Chinese European Art Centre, China, 2010. A recent commission 'The Dislocation' is a marble public sculpture in Co. Derry, Northern Ireland, in conjunction with Derry City of Culture. The pair live and work in Cornwall.