The inaugural exhibition at Home – Manchester’s new venue created from the merger of the arts organisations Cornerhouse and the Library Theatre Company – opens a year of events themed around the idea of desire and the deepest motivations behind our closest relationships. The heart is deceitful above all things is a Biblical quote from the Book of Jeremiah, but the key text referred to here is Kasimir and Karoline by Austro-Hungarian writer Ödön von Horváth (1901-1938), a play which depicts the impact of external economic forces and recession on a young couple, set against the backdrop of a funfair. These are themes clearly ripe for exploration by artists in the context of today’s globalised and connected world and which lend themselves to Home’s vision of an inter-disciplinary and inter-generational approach to the visual arts.
The work presented, whether specially-commissioned or previously shown elsewhere, takes the universal experience of heartbreak as its driving emotional force. Renowned novelist and artist Douglas Coupland’s ongoing body of statements, Slogans for the 21st Century (2011-) seek to explore the complexity of desire in a world where the internet has become ubiquitous. Meanwhile, Flaka Haliti’s video installation I Miss You, I Miss You, Till I Don’t Miss You Anymore (2014) looks at the dissonance between illusion and reality in a pop-cultural context; and Zina Saro-Wiwa’s Eaten By The Heart (2012), features 12 different African and diasporic couples kissing.
Egyptian artist Basim Magdy presents three new commissions: including The Everyday Ritual of Solitude Hatching Monkeys, a film piece, The Hollow Desire to Populate Imaginary Cities, a collection of 30 C-Prints on metallic paper; and Clowns, a site-specific wall mural. Magdy is interested in the power of mass media and the relationship between reality and fiction. A new 16mm film by Declan Clarke follows a covert agent’s investigation of political theorist Friedrich Engels, who wrote The Condition Of The Working Class In England (1845) during his time in Manchester. Clarke incorporates a fictional narrative inspired by Horváth, reimagining Kasimir and Karoline’s story as a contemporary allegory for the failure of the promises of the past.
Meanwhile, Manchester’s own Gemma Parker picks up on the idea of the dark side of the funfair, with her vintage penny arcade-style dispensary machine, The Tattooed Lady (2015). The machine dispenses tattoos which are based on stories of love and regret. Jessey Tsang’s breathe in / breathe out is a video projection following the end of a relationship, in which the emotional arc is mirrored by processes of decay and renewal in nature. Two dancers respond to a story which goes beyond words, with Berlin-based composer Eunice Martins providing the soundtrack. The heart is deceitful above all things is accompanied by a film programme incorporating UK and regional premieres.
The heart is deceitful above all things, 22 May – 26 July, Home, 2 Tony Wilson Place, First Street, Manchester, M15 4FN.
1. Installation view of Slogans for the 21st Century, 2011-14 in Douglas Couplans everywhere is anywhere is everything, Vancouver Art Gallery, 2014. Photo Rachel Topham.