The Present Tense

The first major solo exhibition by artist Edward Thomasson

Commissioned as part of the inaugural Chisenhale Gallery Create Residency, the Chisenhale Gallery presented the first major solo exhibition by Edward Thomasson and the premiere of his video, The Present Tense.

The Present Tense brought together three interconnecting stories that explore how proximity and distance alter our understanding of one another. Set on and around a building site, a cycle of urban demolition and construction provides a backdrop for the physical and emotional regeneration of the central characters.

The narrative is constructed around a woman who, after accidentally falling in the street, observes the slow healing process of her grazed skin in relation to a series of personal and professional transformations. Interwoven with this story are two performed situations, which present different demonstrations of interpersonal relationships. In her consulting room, a therapist uses Sandplay Therapy to mobilise communication with a young client. Elsewhere a group of police officers perform a song to a group of teenagers, describing their interaction with people on the street. The three scenarios come together to describe our public personas as narratives being constantly rewritten.

Conceived by Thomasson as an act of collective storytelling, The Present Tense was performed by a group of trained and untrained performers, many of whom have worked with the artist throughout his eighteen-month residency to explore how performance operates in non-theatrical environments. This new commission develops his specific approach to storytelling, which draws from the genre of musical theatre and its affective engagement with the audience. Thomasson uses this form as a way to navigate the space between interior experience and exterior presentations of the self within social contexts.

The video was structured around an extended musical number written with composer Soosan Lolovar, who Thomasson collaborated with on Between You And Me, a play presented by Chisenhale Gallery and Create at The Glass House Community Centre in July 2013.

 The Chisenhale Gallery Create Residency is supported by Legacy Trust UK and Arts Council England.

Edward Thomasson (born 1985, Stoke-on-Trent) lives and works in London. Recent exhibitions include Left Behind Together, Outpost, Norwich (2013), in collaboration with Lucy Beech; Coded Conduct, Pilar Corrias, London (2013);Just About Managing, Southard Reid, London (2012) and Inside, South London Gallery, part of the Nina Stewart Artist Residency (2011-12).