Simon Faithfull’s exhibition at the BFI on the Southbank
“Most of us live in a 2 dimensional world, we forget that there is a sky above us. I want to draw attention to the sky.”
Simon Faithful’s multifaceted approach to heroism and success likens him to inventors who work under their own volition, are driven by their visions and are gifted with a superior ability to pursue their goals come what may.
I found myself to be in the audience at the performance lecture at the BFI where Simon talked us though the series of experiments he has been working on since 1995. I was struck by how these seemingly simple experiments manage to emphasise the fragility of our physical place in the universe and the magic of gravity that keeps us rooted to earth.
In search of the unachievable Simon Faithful is generally content with achieving failure in his attempts at escaping gravity. But then alarmingly Escape Vehicle no 6 was successful and the simple chair attached to a weather balloon and a camera reached the limits of the earth’s atmosphere. This video footage is currently showing as part of his first solo show the BFI Gallery Space.
The presentation continued to explore and exemplify Simons “ tinkering ways” of working and experimenting with space travel. The performance itself suggests a nostalgia the Victorian age and eccentric quaint black and white photographs picturing fantastic hoppers and flying contraptions of the last century instantly catch one’s romantic imagination.
Simon Faithful’s multifaceted approach to heroism and success likens him to the domestic hero and inventors who work under their own volition who are driven by their visions and are gifted with a superior ability to pursue their goals come what may.
The desire for physical flight and space exploration has fascinated many an Ikarus impersonator throughout the ages and our need for heroism of this kind persist to this day. Simon Faithful may not put his own life on the line but his work does bring you closer to the experience because his experiments are on a human scale. The humble chair reaching the edge of the earth’s atmosphere by a helium balloon contrasts strongly to the attention time and money spent on the Nasa flight program.
Asked if he would like to experience 0 gravity and maybe become part of a space program, he answered:
“Yes of course I would like to experience it”, he said, “there is a virgin space flight program these days where through a process of looping the aircraft achieves a 3 minutes experience of 0 Gravity If Virgin was to sponsor an artist in residency program that would be great but still I think I prefer for my work to be situated on the level of where I am longing to escape”.
The exhibition at the BFI Soutbank Gallery runs until 20 September 2009. www.bfi.org.uk/gallery
I would like to add this quote by Arthur Ashe (social activist and tennis player 1943-1993)