The EMBASSY Gallery may be just a modestly sized room with an additional staircase, but in this year’s members show it has managed to exhibit 90 pieces of artwork. Precariously entitled SALON, the exhibition offers the viewer an insight into what a contemporary Parisian salon could resemble, but its interest becomes its downfall as necessarily one's attention is immediately focused upon - and confused by - the presentation of the exhibition rather than its content.
SALON offers no theme for the artists to adhere to resulting in an extensive and captivating array of subjects; from Michael Jackson to instructions on how to listen to an album. Upstairs, four video pieces are situated next to one another in such close proximity it is impossible to concentrate on each work individually. Subsequently, Calvin Laing’s rotating clay-covered head becomes visually integrated with Carlos Noronha Fei’s mellifluously edited monochrome video submission.
The confusion continues downstairs as obscure objects litter the floor while the walls are populated with over 70 works. Tom Estes’s ‘Virgin Bride’ - a wedding dress filled with the ghost of a human form and tagged with Mencken’s profession that "What men value is this world is not rights, but privileges" is the most instantly arresting piece, though this is as much due to its domination of the space as to artistic competence.
The notion of space and arrangement is both inescapable and detrimental to the work. Salon hanging has long been outdated and upon seeing this exhibition it becomes apparent why. There is no possibility for singular examination and instead the pieces develop into a unified installation. The EMBASSY, in the conscious effort to reproduce the notion of a 18th century Parisian salon have done nothing further than highlight its irrelevance within the contemporary art world.