Aleksandra Mir

Camulodunum

By Martin Herbert
Art Monthly, #351, London, November 2011

Camulodunum
30 September 2011 - 15 January 2012
Firstsite, Colchester

... After a slightly bumpy start with Danh Vo's We the People, 2011 - extracts from the Vietnamese artist's ongoing scale model of the Statue of Liberty, in the form of crates, moulds and copper fragments of giant hands - the show find its localist/internationalist pitch confidently with Aleksandra Mir's quietly consuming HELLO Colchester, 2011. Rifling through image archives from the 16th century onwards, Mir created a daisy-chain line of portraits focusing on significant Colchester citizens or local events: a photographed painting of Anthony van Dyck and Endymion Porter abuts a pairing of Porter and Sir Ralph Hopton, which gives way to one of Hopton and Sir Basil Grenville etc. This structure encloses lacerating, chronological affect, as when a paraplegic, wheelchair-bound young soldier greeting Elizabeth II is next seen as a child on Santa's knee, or an old man suddenly reappears, young again, in black and white. Hugging the bending, angled wall that runs the length of Firstsite, it is a bittersweet shout-out to the town, a chronology of changing image technologies and a model of casual interconnectedness - eventual tying Elizabeth I to the pop group Blur - all at once. ...