Townhouse Gallery: ‘Desire, Deceit & Difficult Deliveries’ by Doa Aly
There is a ‘sublime hysteria’ to everyday life, as the curators of ‘Desire, Deceit & Difficult Deliveries’ by Doa Aly say. Showing in Townhouse Gallery, the exhibition only seems to create a void in which this can easily be forgotten. In a contrived effort to illustrate the obsessive, yearning quality of daily life, through a crowded confused amalgamation of themes – ranging from Greek mythology to medical science – Aly fails in making her art what all good art should be: representational of its themes.
The collection comes across as a poorly reworked variation on an old theme, which has been done better elsewhere. The ideas are strong, however, the aesthetics, feeling, and heart required to convey such a principle concept are lacking. Overall, this exhibition is disconnected, hollow, and was ultimately a frustrating experience.
The first part of the show highlights four videos meant to tell something of the stories of the Ovid; it would take a great philosopher and historian to see this connection. But then again, maybe this is not necessary. The viewer is confronted with four videos, each in four parts, showing unidentifiable characters engaging in mechanical repetitious motions. It would seem as though the obsessive, repetitious movement of the characters on screen is meant to reflect our own schizophrenic nature, however, the rarefied atmosphere of the gallery and the removed characters, background and motions, make these pieces entirely un-relatable. In an attempt to create perhaps a universal atmosphere, Aly has created an irrelevant display that’s devoid of human feeling.
This absence of feeling continues on the first floor where an impressive text collage connects the poems of the Ovid with medical texts. Standing alone, this piece would have great strength, but as a bridge between two parts of the exhibition, we can see the artist attempting to create a narrative by force. That said, the first floor does feature some amazing drawings showcasing the artist’s talent as well as grasp of the themes presented.
The piece entitled ‘Roy’ offers a splendid conclusion to the exhibition. In this tragic piece we can see what this exhibition could have been. This piece shows a regular, relatable character and rather than underlying the fundamental themes of the exhibition and injecting it with human feeling, this very separate piece serves as a reminder of all that is missing in the rest of this show.
We found this show to be a somewhat removed handling of human feeling and lacking in terms of expressive and honest art, which could have better occupied this space.