Critics’ Picks

Patrick Goddard, Looking for the Ocean Estate, 2016, looped video, color, sound, 33 minutes 52 seconds.


Patrick Goddard

41 Acre Lane
November 13–December 10, 2016

A giant spider is trapped under a glass, its legs feeling around for a way out; someone talks about a nest of baby pigeons, bleached and discarded in a black garbage bag. These are two of the disturbing images from Patrick Goddard’s mockumentary-style film, Looking for the Ocean Estate, 2016, a looping video that you settle down to watch on something akin to your parent’s sofa. Goddard’s narrative focuses on a self-conscious artist—a fictionalized version of himself—seeking “authenticity.” He returns to a poorer area of London where he briefly lived, only to find it gentrifying. The artist worries that “off-piste” London is dying and becoming sanitized. He interviews a number of characters about this. One denizen responds that for him, these areas were never off-piste. At a PFC (Perfect Fried Chicken), the artist eats a veggie burger, and his interviewee comments on this choice, “Being snobby about food is a devious way of being snobby about the people who eat it.” Goddard’s film simultaneously critiques urban renewal, social alienation, and the hipster fetishization of poverty and decay.

Nearby, Goddard’s series “Seascapes,” 2010–, assemblages made from perforated security shutters, recalls the horizon line between sky and sea. A blue monochrome, The Mediterranean (View to the North), 2016, carries a ripped warning sticker that states, “This property is alarmed.” Early pieces from “Seascapes” were made with window grilles that Goddard found while squatting in abandoned buildings.

This show draws attention to the social issues arising from the current UK Conservative government’s policy on affordable housing, which is steeped in classism, as well as to the sometimes problematic role artists take on in critiquing sociopolitical subjects, as they often sit within the same insidious social hierarchies that they protest.