Istanbul “Children of the Revolution,” a two-person show by Mark Aerial Waller and Giles Round, brought together a series of individual and collaborative works. The London-based Waller, whose often surreal film and video works move through science fiction, Greek tragedy and documentary, presented the trilogy “Resistance Domination Secret” (2007-08). Filmed in Warsaw, Istanbul and London, it is based loosely on Aeschylus’s cycle of tragedies, the “Oresteia.” By using minimal props and symbolic sets, intentionally interrupting the action at key junctures with contemporary music and punctuating the Greek tragedy with sequences from old films, Waller combines critique and humor. A sense of the absurd is magnified by his preference for nonprofessional actors, who are given little direction. The film’s theme of revenge as justice, as relevant now as ever, complements Waller’s focus on the psychology of paranoia.
By contrast Giles Round, who also lives in London, works with geometric shapes, minimal structures and monochromatic planes, together with lights or typographic schemes that recall the Bauhaus. In “Children of the Revolution,” Round exhibited lighting fixtures titled From Wine Jugs to Lighting Fittings and a wall painting called The New Artists Discovered the Excitement of Structure (both 2008). Both are inspired by the writings of László Moholy-Nagy, he of the unwavering Modernist conviction that good design could change people’s understanding of their own needs, and correspondingly alter the means of producing objects to meet them. Round’s wall painting, which typifies his coded geometry, is a grid structure made up of letters that oscillate between legibility and illegibility. Using fonts designed specifically for this piece, he marshalls the indecipherable: language, broken down to pattern, approaches the decorative.
In addition to their individual art practices, both Waller and Round are seasoned collaborators. Together, over the years, they have undertaken The Wayward Canon, a shifting enterprise for the re-evaluation of cinema, which has included Taverna Especial, an informal salon space in East London dedicated to showing single pieces of contemporary art; “Simon and the Radioactive Flesh,” a film and disco event; and “The Glittering Canon,” a screening, VJ performance and disco illustrating the shift from cinematic to participatory experience. In “Children of the Revolution,” they presented publicity material and other ephemera from these events. The exhibition’s title, borrowed from a 1972 hit single of the same name by the English band T-Rex, highlights the artists’ attraction to romantic idealism and the power of hope, as well to the hedonism and playfulness of rock music.