Luke Burton: Filigree Endings

Bosse & Baum, London

By Angels Miralda

Luke Burton, Installation View, Filigree Endings, Bosse Baum. photography by Oskar Proctor

Entering the London based gallery Bosse & Baum is an adventure in itself. A series of narrow passageways and empty lots slowly reveal a post-industrial art space located in an old warehouse. Its cold and severe interior provides a peculiar backdrop for Luke Burton’s solo exhibition, Filigree Endings. Burton shows a series of recent works that all follow a similar vein of inquiry through a variety of media. He is interested in examining details of the city and human emotion, engaging with delicate playfulness, humour, exploration, and the lightness connected to childhood curiosity. Filigree Endings incorporates three films and recent sculptures. In order to present these pieces in contrast to the bare and open interior, Burton has created an architectural theatre of screens that creates a specific ambience in which the works can be viewed. It is a bold choice to present films as the central work in a commercial gallery, and the artist has successfully used this medium to change the space into one of intimacy. The artworks incorporate appropriated music, something that could become overbearing, but in this case the soundtrack, juxtaposed with the austerity of the space, elicits a light-hearted sensibility pervasive throughout the gallery.

Luke Burton, Still from "Tow(n)" HD video, 5.30, 2014

The trio of films, Filigree Endings, Tow(n), and Balfron Flower, each develop themes of the everyday: the experience of architecture, nature and quotidian pleasures informed by a curious naïveté. A series of sculptural works, or ‘hanging baskets,’ which introduce notions of touch and materiality, are presented alongside the films as a separate exploration of these themes. The three films are installed so that they face each other. Timed to play sequentially, they converse with and react to the others' footage. The audience is prompted to follow a circuit as the activity moves across the screens, and falls into a game that Burton has devised within the constructed environs and presentation of the films; turning in places, and responding to the playing order of sounds and lights. The exhibition's low lighting allows the viewer to see the projections and hanging sculptures in a continuous artificial dusk, creating an environment of intimacy and connectedness.

Luke Burton, Installation View, Filigree Endings, Bosse Baum. photography by Oskar Proctor.

The film Filigree Endings, from which the exhibition derives its title, occupies the central screen in the architectural theatre. It follows Burton on a brisk nocturnal walk as he passes a series of undulating brick fences and rows of neatly planted flowers. The garden is one that can be easily passed by unnoticed, but in this case its delicate petals form part of a night spectacle, combined with flashing lights and the warm exhalations emitted into the frame from an anonymous mouth. Spotlights catch breaths that dissipate quickly into the night air and the light presence of the exhalations fit the playful aggrandisement of the petals; both are delicate and brief outbursts which the film turns into a spectacular night time-disco. Caribou’s Silver plays over the scenes and creates an upbeat, light-hearted mood of simple enjoyment and youthful pleasures.

Luke Burton, Still from "Filigree Endings," 2015, HD video, 9.12

One film leads to the next, timed to stop and begin in turn, and Tow(n) continues to touch on the subjects of childhood curiosity and exploration. Similarly to Filigree Endings, it plays with the construction of a specific atmosphere created by the use of popular music. Burton’s own deep breathy voice is played over the footage and is reminiscent of the crystallized breaths in Filigree Endings. Breath and voice are captured as moisture and texture to compliment the visual evocations of a sense of touch and the immateriality of the projection. Burton follows the rhythm of the music with his hand against an upholstered chair in an exaggerated caress. The texture of the green ageing upholstery is soon contrasted with a field of grass and by footage of Burton’s own body being pulled across it, accompanied by Bob Dylan’s Pretty Saro. At the end we see Burton, unkept and marked by dirt but standing, looking at the horizon hopefully.

Luke Burton, Still from 'Balfron Flower' HD Video, 6mins, 2014

Balfron Flower completes the loop. It shows Burton slumping down in the small elevator of the famous London Brutalist building repetitively before exiting the compartment. As a child would do on an everyday walk, he then drags a pink flower across the rough pebbled exterior of the building, completing a lap around it. The flower slowly disintegrates as its soft petals are crushed by the jagged rocky texture of the architectural exterior. After a brief pause against the “Balfron Tower” lettering of the building, the flower is completely destroyed as Burton smashes it against the inside of the elevator in an angsty and violent action, forming a constellation of petals that explode from the bare stem, revealing a vulnerable object that now emulates the grey interior and vertical axis of the tower. This movement, as with the dragging of the petals along the base of the tower, seems to stem from an instinctive childlike curiosity.

Accompanying the films are a set of seven hanging sculptures, set up in a line against the back wall of the gallery. These represent a different body of work that are nonetheless tied to the films by their common interests and themes. The sculptures consist of Perspex domes in which Burton presents debris from his studio floor carefully arranged, covered with floral-patterned sheets that droop over the domes and protect their unusual contents of hairballs, dust, and fragments of paper receipts. The decorative, traditional use of floral patterns is contrasted with a sense of disgust at the sight of residue and detritus. A brass disc is attached to the top of the domes, sealing their contents in place and connecting them with brass wire up to the ceiling. Brass is a metal that eliminates bacteria, and because of this is used on doors in bathroom stalls and on public railings. Here, the brass seals the dirt into a closed environment so it can be safely appreciated. These hanging sculptures accompany the films as a different meditation on the same overarching themes of the presentation of the everyday, tactility, and coincidence.

Luke Burton, Installation View, Filigree Endings, Bosse Baum. photography by Oskar Proctor

The elements of floral décor and weightlessness span across the displays and media in the exhibition, from the floral night-disco to the Balfron flower to the floral patterns that cover the hanging baskets. Filigree Endings effectively presents the works and themes in unity, even if the sculptural series is slightly side-lined as a result of being installed outside of the more intimate theatre setting that the screens benefit from. The films fill the substantial gallery with their mesmerising qualities and the sheer physicality of the large screens themselves. The audio from the films is carefully timed to avoid any conflation of sounds while allowing for punctuations of silence. Together with the artificial twilight, these elements exist beyond the boundaries of the films, influencing the soundtrack and environment of the exhibition as a whole. The normally bare and austere architecture of the gallery is offset by the conversational presentation of the screens, and serves as an industrial backdrop for a practice dedicated to finding the decorative in hidden everyday moments.