The World Turned Upside Down
Buster Keaton, Sculpture and the Absurd

The World Turned Upside Down
Buster Keaton, Sculpture and the Absurd

Mead Gallery at Warwick Arts Centre, University of Warwick

Still from One Week, 1920. Courtesy Park Circus.
October 19, 2013
The World Turned Upside Down Buster Keaton, Sculpture and the Absurd

Friday 4 October–Saturday 14 December 2013

Mead Gallery, Warwick Arts Centre
University of Warwick
Coventry CV4 7AL
Free entry

In 1920, Buster Keaton released his first solo film, One Week, at around the same time as Duchamp was working on The Large Glass (The Bride Stripped Bare by her Batchelors, Even). One Week uses beautifully executed visual jokes to tell the story of a man’s doomed attempts to build a flat-pack house—the utopian modernist readymade—for his bride. Keaton not only performed his own stunts; he also designed the mechanics by which the scenes were created, along the way inventing shots and editing sequences that have now become the accepted syntax of cinema. Viewed shot by shot, these scenes undermine certainties about the world we inhabit and represent the inevitability of failure when we try to exert control.

Curated by Simon Faithfull and Ben Roberts, The World Turned Upside Down, places the work of over twenty international artists working in film, sculpture, installation art and performance in direct relation to Buster Keaton’s films to track a lineage from the melancholic and at times anarchic comedy of Keaton to the dry wit of conceptual practice. By examining Keaton’s approach to art through making—the processes of repetition, failure and risk—the exhibition also establishes a nuanced presentation of the developmental relationship between slapstick film, sculpture and performance and highlights parallels within modern and contemporary sculptural practice which continue to resonate today.

The exhibition features work of conceptual artists working in film, photography, sculpture, installation art and performance; by historical and contemporary, established and emerging artists. These include Bas Jan Ader, Marcel Broodthaers, Alexandre da Cunha, Simon Faithfull, Fischli  Weiss, Brian Griffiths, Emma Hart, Jeppe Hein, Sofia Hultén, Tehching Hsieh, Gordon Matta-Clark, Hayley Newman, Miranda Pennell, Ruth Proctor, Roman Signer, William Wegman, Richard Wentworth, Richard Wilson, John Wood and Paul Harrison, Ben Woodeson and Erwin Wurm. The associated events programme features performances by Angus Braithwaite, Andy Holden, Jefford Horrigan, Ruth Proctor and William Hunt.

The World Turned Upside Down places the work of these artists in direct relation to three of Keaton’s early films: The Boat, The Cameraman and One Week, which will be continuously played throughout the exhibition. Through the plotting of these connections, the exhibition establishes a nuanced presentation of slapstick and the developmental relationship between sculpture and performance.

The World Turned Upside Down is a Mead Gallery exhibition which has been supported by The Henry Moore Foundation.

Alongside the exhibition there are a number of events running throughout the season. Events include:

Exhibition tours
Join Fiona Venables, Assistant Curator, for a 30-minute introduction to The World Turned Upside Down. The exhibition tours are free but places are limited so please book ahead by calling the Box Office.

The Big Draw – Future Cities
Be part of designing and building the biggest joint collage and 3D sculpture in the area and join us as we create a fantastic, future landscape.

Zombie Hunt
Join the Mead Gallery’s Halloween Zombie Hunt, including a Prize Draw and the opportunity to win a unique artist-made zombie doll. Zombie Hunt will take place throughout the day; no booking required.

Slapstick Workshops with Tim Klotz
60-90-minute workshops at 10am for 7-10 yrs; 1pm for 11-17yrs; 3pm and 5pm for 16+

For one day only, Tim Klotz will be teaching the art of physical comedy through a series of slapstick workshops for children, young people and adults.

Drawing Week in the Mead Gallery
Still-lives will be available for visitors to draw and a range of free art activities will be taking place. For up-to-date information, check the website, No booking is required.

Family Art Day
Bring the family along for a fun-packed day of art activities in the Mead Gallery responding to the current exhibition.

Fail Better – Deconstructing Buster Keaton
Warwick Arts Centre hosts a packed two days of artists’ performances, film screenings and talks to coincide with The World Turned Upside Down. Contributors include Angus Braithwaite, Simon Faithfull, Andy Holden, Jefford Horrigan, William Hunt and Ruth Proctor.

For more information and to book tickets, please visit or call Box Office on 024 7652 4524.

Mead Gallery
Warwick Arts Centre
University of Warwick
Coventry CV4 7AL

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Mead Gallery at Warwick Arts Centre, University of Warwick
October 19, 2013

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