Peter Coffin: Fruit ninja - Art Collector

Untitled, 2011. High definition video, edition 2 of 5 + 1 AP, dimensions variable. Courtesy: the artist and Herald St, London

By Emma Capps

Currently presiding over Herald St gallery in east London is Peter Coffin’s recent video work – a commanding, inarguable piece that renders coherent description difficult.

Untitled, 2011, Coffin has created a fathomless digital universe which features – instead of stars and planets – hovering clusters of glowing (seemingly bioluminescent) fruit, which slowly tumble and spin towards the viewer. Set to a thrumming, humming score with a strong, wavering baseline, the video holds the room with a compelling sense of bravado.

Works like this (cannily conceived, expertly made) can tend to dictate a spectator’s response. And certainly, upon being faced with Coffin’s galaxy of fruit, we viewers can do little but stand in stunned and obedient silence – accepting the terms of the work without knowing what it is exactly we’re accepting. With its repetitive, droning presence and brazenly ditzy aesthetic, the video almost defies inquiry.
Peter Coffin, Untitled (Powers of Ten), 2015. Mixed media, 34 x 175 x 214cm. Courtesy: the artist and Herald St, London

But, inquire we must, and the first thing that springs to mind is the notion of time and relativity. Coffin, it seems, is playing with the micro and the macro through the (incredibly unlikely) conduit of digitally rendered, celestial fruit.

Accompanying this work in an adjoining space is a quiet collection of objects, which build on this loosely established theme of time. A single oil painting,
Untitled Rivers (Time and the Probabilistic View of the World), 2015, is joined by Untitled (Powers of Ten), 2015 – a replica of the picnic spread that marks the beginning of the Eames’ offices’ Power of Ten video from the late 1970s. Whether we are able to make meaningful associations between these works and the original texts that informed them seems almost irrelevant, as these pieces, along with Coffin’s video work, seem uninterested in making a formal inquiry into our relationship with time. Rather, the show seems to function as a tongue-in-cheek comment on the ineptitude of our fumbling attempts to describe something as indefinite as the concept of time.

Coffin has been exhibiting internationally since 2002, and is work is included in the permanent collections at Aspen Art Museum (Aspen, CO), Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, MI), MoMA (New York, NY), and Storm King Art Center (New Windsor, NY), Museum für Moderne Kunst (Frankfurt am Main), Nomas Foundation (Rome), The Wanås Foundation sculpture park (Skåne, Sweden), Borusan Contemporary (Istanbul), The Saatchi Gallery (London), and the Zabludowicz Collection (London).

Fjord bank glyphs quiz vext Cwm will be on show at Herald St. from the 6 June to 12 July, 2015.
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