Leon McDermott, 'Fiona Jardine: Moltke’s Eye' (The Metro, 04/05/2007)

Reading the gallery notes for this solo show by Fiona Jardine, you’d be forgiven for thinking that something odd is afoot, and that the words on the page bear little meaning in connection with the art on the walls.

Invoking everyone from French playwright Rabelais and artful modern writer David Foster Wallace to TS Elliot and Francis Bacon, not to mention absurdist theatre and interior design, these notes are the usual confabulation of artspeak jargon and elaborate verbosity.

Jardine’s work, however, is far more intriguing: she says what she says with a concise, beautiful simplicity. There is a narrative in the photographs and sculptures spread across Sorcha Dallas’s two shopfront gallery spaces, but it’s not linear. In photographs, a man with a huge black ball covering his head – he looks like a refuge from art-rock band The Residents – is slumped in a chair by a bay window. Or he sleeps on a dingy sofa bed. Or he crouches, threatening, back to the wall, ready to pounce. Meanwhile, in front of an imposing green curtain, a wax relief sculpture, an eye – of another gallery resident, as it were – glares at you, unblinking and demanding a response. In front of this sits a pile of square black slabs – horizontal headstones, maybe, piled up, waiting to be used.

There’s something in this combination: a sense of uncertainty and fear, of a life being pointlessly lived, but under constant scrutiny. It’s a modern dystopia, a wasteland; you could become stuck there, never knowing how to escape.