Obstacle Course and other works was Wood & Harrison’s first major gallery exhibition – a multi-part, object-based set-piece that established a template for their subsequent installations and provided an early run-through of the type of deftly executed stunts and pratfalls that have been a distinguishing feature of the duo’s practice. Six large, white, elementary structures are distributed at regular intervals across the gallery space, like a playful, adventure-playground version of a Minimalist sculpture court. Incorporated into each is a discreetly housed video monitor, on which the viewer gets regular glimpses of the same solitary figure, shinning up ladders, wriggling free of temporary confinement or hurtling down a slide. Although these appearances are sudden and fleeting, the sound of the protagonist’s exertions as he negotiates this challenging circuit continues to reverberate, turning this show of strength and indefatigability into something that, over time, seems more like an exercise in futility. Eschewing this theatrical backdrop, two companion videos (Circular Walk and Plinth) capture the repetitive habits and restricted horizons of human perambulation with the precision of a Beckettian dumbshow, covering the same arduous ground in abbreviated, miniature form.
Firstsite at the Minories Art Gallery, Colchester; 19 June – 24 July 1999
John Hansard Gallery, Southampton: 24 August – 2 October 1999
Mead Gallery, Warwick; 13 November – 11 December 1999
LightHouse, Wolverhampton: 19 November 1999 – 15 January 2000