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Press Release

Southard Reid is proud to present an exhibition of work by British artist, Sean Dower.

Dower’s practice spans the last twenty years, encompassing live performance, sculpture, film, sound, installation and photography. His work often originates as a personal and local response to wider contemporary society and culture. Through the use and adaptation of his own experiences he draws attention to physical, metaphysical and socio-cultural boundaries.

For his first exhibition at Southard Reid, Dower presents a new sculpture, constructing a pyre of discarded books. The impetus for the work was Dower’s attempts to donate these books to charity shops and libraries, which rejected them, already having excess; he was directed to waste recycling facilities. Books, their production, consumption, distribution, re-distribution and destruction have become a practical as well as culturally charged contemporary issue. Filling the gallery space, itself above Blacks, founded in the 18th century as a literary club, Dower’s Book Pyre sculpture has to be negotiated physically and, by the nature of its material and historical associations, emotionally and psychologically.

Also exhibited is a photographic work from Dower’s ‘Salvation’ series, taken in 1997 in a now demolished Salvation Army distribution warehouse. Presented as a pair, these stereo images become three-dimensional when viewed in the correct way - linking the experience of sculpture and photography, as well as connecting with the ongoing theme of abandonment and disuse.

In the 1997 video 3-frame Subliminal an apparently sexually suggestive image flashes up at random intervals on an otherwise blank screen, necessitating double-take and re-examination. With all of these works, Dower elicits closer inspection and initial appearances and associations make way for multiplicity of meaning.

Sean Dower was born in Walsall, UK, in 1965. He studied Sculpture at Camberwell School of Art, London (1988-91), before attending the residency programme at the Rijksakademie van Beeldenden Kunsten, Amsterdam (1993-95). His work has been exhibited internationally including, Galerie Krinzinger, Vienna (1997); MoMA, New York (1998); Netwerk Centre for Contemporary Art, Aalst, Belguim (2010), and at venues in the UK including, Matt’s Gallery, London (1997); Tate Britain, London (2006), and The New Art Gallery, Walsall (2010).

The image ‘Sean Sells Subliminals’ is reproduced from Jeremy Cooper’s book no FuN without U: The Art of Factual Nonsense, Ellipsis, 2000.

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