The title of Adam Norton’s exhibition, A Handbook for the Apocalypse, contextualises it as a how-to guide for surviving catastrophic situations. Norton’s practice has consistently examined how to refit everyday material into an arsenal of tools with which to survive apocalyptic, extraordinary circumstances. In a time of general global crisis, his explorations feel all the more relevant.
Despite the apocalyptic premise, Norton’s sense of humour infects the work throughout. There are water-rescue crafts built from suitcases and lawn chairs, a survival pod fitted into an old wardrobe, and camouflage made from domestic fabrics designed to blend into the landscape. While the works may not literally protect the user from apocalyptic conditions, they arm against something all the more important - the loss of humour and joy in the face of doom-laden circumstance.
Taking Norton’s works together from the last two decades allows them to
be examined as a whole, a multitude of paths through increasingly dire circumstances
– both as survival tools and manifestations of the joy and humour that will be
required to push through crises that have become the new global norm.
Harry de Vries
Area 51, 2008, synthetic polymer paint on canvas, 200 x 118 cm
Smoke Stack, 2008, acrylic on canvas, 137 x 188 cm
Prohibited Area, 2010, synthetic polymer paint on board, wooden poles, bolts, 240 × 122 × 7 cm Autonomous Rescue Craft [A. R. C.] Mk 1, Mk 2, & Mk 3, 2006, found suitcases, paddle, mixed media, dimensions variable
Pipe Room, 2009, synthetic polymer paint on canvas, 140 x 220 cm
Cave Girls, 2015, synthetic polymer and pigment print on canvas, 129 x 91 cm
Yellow Rock Canyon, 2017, synthetic polymer and pigment print on canvas, 31 x 41 cm
Car Park Meteor, 2015, synthetic polymer and pigment ink on canvas, 91 x 140 cm
Generic Escape Capsule [G. E. C.], 2005 found wardrobe, mixed media (14-day survival rations, cooking equipment, radio, chair, bucket, tools, first aid kit, water, lamp, periscope, esky), 183 × 153 × 53 cm Road Trip, 2008, recycled fabric, wood, chairs and slide projector, dimensions variable
Camouflage Suit Experiment, 2007, video, duration: 10:08, edition of 3 + 1 AP
Washington Land Use Camouflage Map, 2008, acrylic on paper on found map, 72 x 77 cm
Installation images: Docqment
Video: Felipe Olivares