Marcelle Joseph Projects proudly presents An Idle Brain Is Satan's Shoppe, a solo exhibition featuring a new series of images by London-based artist Liane Lang created at Casa Guidi in Florence, the erstwhile home of Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning, two of England's most prominent Victorian poets. In these rooms, the Brownings wrote some of their finest poetry, and "Casa Guidi" was the name given to the apartment by Elizabeth herself. The apartment is now a museum and attempts to recreate as closely as possible the living quarters, furniture and artwork as they were when the Brownings lived there from 1847 until 1861. The museological semblance in these photographic images creates an uncanny atmosphere, presence and absence filling the rooms in equal measure. Lang has created a figure, using her signature life-cast sculptural techniques, dressed up as Elizabeth, which she poses in the rooms like a ghostly visitation from the past.
Although Elizabeth is pictured alone in each of Lang’s works in the exhibition, it is important to note another absent soul in these Florentine rooms, that of Robert Browning, the person who gave Elizabeth - a sickly invalid whose father refused to let her travel south for health reasons or marry - Italy, travel, experience and unconditional love. Their courtship and marriage is considered one of the greatest love stories in English history. At thirty-eight years old, Elizabeth received an audacious letter from Robert Browning admiring her poetry. This fabled letter-writing courtship continued until they married in England and moved to Italy in the dead of night. So the figure in these images becomes an apparition pining for the love of her life or one last interchange of encouragement. The titles of the works in this series as well as the exhibition title are mostly taken from Elizabeth's poems.
In general, Liane's work is concerned with notions of animacy, which she investigates through sculpture, photography and video works. Many of Lang’s works examine museum objects and the biographies they attempt to narrate, modes of display and the verisimilitude of art objects, particularly figurative sculptures and political monuments.
Liane Lang (born in Germany) is an artist based in London who studied at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin and completed a BA in Fine Art at Goldsmiths College, London followed by a Postgraduate Diploma at the Royal Academy Schools, London, where she graduated in 2006. Recent projects have included residencies in Budapest, Hungary (2009) and Riga, Latvia (2010), where the artist used photography and animation to stage interventions with monuments from the Socialist era. Lang has completed other residencies in New York (2013), Provence (2012) and Berlin (2011). She has exhibited widely both in the UK and abroad and her work is held in a number of prominent collections, including, among others, the collections of Deutsche Bank, Royal Academy of Art, White Cube, Ernst & Young, Arts Council Of England, Saatchi Gallery and Kunstverein Bregenz in Austria. Lang's solo exhibitions include, among others, those at Rosenberg Gallery, Hofstra University, New York (2013); Art First Projects, London (2013); WW Gallery, London (2011); KvH Projects, London (2010), Squid/Tabernacle, London (2010); Supernova Gallery, Riga (2010); and Kunstverein Heidelberg (2007). Selected group shows include Focal Point Gallery, Southend (2012); WW Gallery at the Venice Biennale (2011); Flaming July, Leighton House Museum, London (2010); ArtFutures, Bloomberg Space, London (2007); Go-Between, Kunstverein Bregenz, Austria (2005); Sesiones Animadas, Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid (2005); 2002 Liverpool Biennial; Animations, P.S.1 Contemporary Art Centre, New York (2001); and New Labour, Saatchi Gallery, London (2001). Lang was awarded the Hotshoe Magazine Photography Prize (2012); the Selina Cheneviere Fellowship and Hugh Merrell Dissertation Award in 2006; the Henry Moore Foundation Production Award and SPS Award in 2005; the London Arts Board Production Award (2002); and the Tooth Travel Award (2001). Later this year, Lang will undertake a residency culminating in an exhibition at Spandau Citadel in Berlin, one of the best-preserved Renaissance military structures of Europe and currently a museum.
The House of St Barnabas is a Grade-I listed Georgian building in the heart of Soho notable for its rococo plasterwork interiors and other architectural features. Originally built in 1679 as the great corner house, coach house and stables for the timber merchant, Cadogan Thomas of Lambeth, the House was also home to the following aristocrats: the second Baron Crew, Lady Elizabeth Cavendish and the dowager Countess of Fingall, but the longest residence was of William Archer MP from 1719 until 1738. In 1810, the House ceased to be a residential property and was let to the Westminster and Middlesex Sewer Board. In 1855, the House was used by the Metropolitan Board of Works, and became the office of Sir Joseph William Bazalgette. Liane Lang's solo exhibition is in the actual office of Sir Bazalgette. Since 1862, the House of St Barnabas has been run as a charity to support homeless people. The building functioned as a hostel for women until 2006. The not-for-profit private members' club at House of St Barnabas opened in October 2013. The Collective at the club at The House of St Barnabas showcases the most inspiring and uplifting visual art from established and emerging artists. The club's permanent collection includes donations from founding member Rankin, and celebrated artists Martin Creed, Tracey Emin, Jeremy Deller, Mark Titchner, Yinka Shonibare MBE, Chris Levine, Djordji Ozbolt, Neil Gall, Kevin Francis Gray, Gordon Cheung, Jamie Shovlin, Simon English and Julie Verhoeven.