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JANE VENIS

Gymnauseum

15th Oct 2011 - 11th Dec 2011

Do you suffer from exercise anxiety? Are the signs of poor lifestyle choices starting to show?  Or, maybe you are comfortable in your skin, you feel toned, buff and in alignment, having done your daily dose of exercise requirements. However, even this diligence does not always cure the pangs of guilt, which afflict most people in this body beautiful conscious age. 

 

In response to this contemporary condition, Jane Venis has produced an elaborate and evocative installation.  Gymnauseum brings together an eclectic mix of built from scratch, preloved and off-the-shelf objects, which have been ‘pimped out’. So the resulting exercise arena hovers uneasily between an obsessive home gym and a strange self-help centre.  Here the freshly minted gym equipment is covered with mirrors so that participants can check out every aspect of their performance; unattainable and illogical routines play out on digital screens; and a lethal spike-laden boxing bag is anxiously sensitive to the touch.

 

Gymnauseum demands to be activated conceptually and physically, but ultimately it is a site designed for spectacle. The gym is an unusual social environment, it is largely about tuning in to an internal space and goals, and yet the situation usually sees a projection onto external factors - invariably the other participants.  At the heart of Gymnauseum is this state of uneasy voyeurism, the quest to desire and be desired. At a darker level the relationship between pleasure and pain, exorcising your demons through exercise, is symbolically expressed in these ‘home-made’ devices. As the title for this installation seems to suggests, when does self-improvement becomes self harm, or a new illness? On another level, Venis provides this range of illogical instruments to elevate gallery goers from the tedium of their daily regimes. 

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