Picking up where On Second Thought, Eddie! and Something Exotic ended, Middlemarch is the latest collaborative exhibition by a group of London artists who are currently spread around Europe. While their last two exhibitions were clearly defined projects with distinctive beginnings, middles and ends, Middlemarch is a many-legged creature that is difficult to quantify. It will feature large curtains, a freestanding screen with a colourful slide show projected onto it, a theatrical voiceover, a set of moving sculptures and a retrospective of the publicity for the group’s exhibitions.
Exactly how these elements will combine will remain unclear until the nine artists descend upon the Auto Italia space to finish the show in an explosive finale to the creative process in the last few days before it opens. The Auto Italia girls have been integrally involved in Middlemarch, and provide the voices of Madame, Franz, Von and, collectively, Jason, the characters who make up the exhibition’s voiceover. Using the rise and fall of Julius Caesar as its starting point, the voiceover and exhibition delves into and encompasses Web 2.0 (specifically YouTube); sex in all its tawdry, traumatic and joyous glory; and what exactly it means to be an artist – particularly a group of artists working collaboratively. But before anything else, Middlemarch is an exhibition that is designed to be entertaining and enjoyable.
Through multitudinous meetings, an unending sea of emails, splinter groups, alliances and fractious creative relationships, Middlemarch and the two previous exhibitions by the group responsible for it are borne of a way of working that embodies the plethora of human emotions which makes working collaboratively simultaneously euphoric and unendurable, and everything in between. Or, to put it more concisely, Middlemarch is an artistic manifestation of an internet meme that you know is inhumane and horrible, but which you cannot help looking at.