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Programme

HyperArt

Hyperart – an unlikely alliance of the contemporary art world and the bargain basement phenomenon. For this exhibition, the three artists have taken as their inspiration South Wales’ own pound store, HyperValue.


For his work on the ground floor, Simon Fenoulhet acknowledges the multiples nature of HyperValue items. Out of Body uses double and triple socket adaptors in a building block fashion to create a live electrical chair. As a functioning channel for the mains supply of electricity, the potency of this object becomes apparent from the HyperValue clip-on lights illuminating the piece that are plugged into the chair. The lights trail to a suit suspended from the ceiling, completing the work.

Out of Body suggests a number of associations, one being the electric chair, a method of execution, with the suit being read as a vanity mirror for a TV celebrity's make-up room. But aside from any such references, the work’s interest lies in Fenoulhet’s application of a basic functional object as a building block. This creates an energised scene from an inanimate object, normally used as a mere link between the National Grid and more obvious, immediate and 'un-Hyper' uses of power - TVs, computers, and stereos. Out of Body celebrates that link as a phenomenon in itself, manifested in the artist's signature object, the chair.

The multiples potential of HyperValue is recognised in Richard Powell’s work Hypercinth, but in a different way. Since early October, Powell has been nurturing hyacinth bulbs, an unlikely pound shop item. Not tied to the short lifespan that most other HyperValue products have, the bulbs are purchased with a very different set of expectations from other bargain items:

‘The bulbs and seed packets enter this manufactured superfluity in an unrealised condition, and exit in a direction of an uncertain future. They are fat with energy, they are vegetal batteries and they are potent and full of potential. The time of their 'lives', is for us the purchaser / viewer, deferred and possibility unfulfilled. Within them there is a moment that we cannot predict, in which they might exceed the label. To me this was/ is exciting, there is the risk they might not succeed in reaching the bloom condition (their implicit purpose is to continue their existence), the only things in the shop able to regenerate themselves, an unwritten optimism. The work is not replication, explanation or diagram, of the Hypervalue experience, ethos or ambition; it represents only itself to the viewer. Hypercinth looks at the broader meaning of the word value, equating it less with cheapness of goods and more with their worth and longevity.’

Louise Adlam’s work takes a more historical approach to the HyperValue phenomenon. Return to Barry Island suggests a nostalgia trip of some sort, maybe for an ex-resident or someone who once holidayed here. The retro 8mm cine footage of the sea-front at the resort are very much from the holidaying tradition, but the images we see are as empty as Dauguerre's photographs of Paris. The flaking resort seems to have past its heyday, having been built on the business that sells short-lived, disposable goods. Barry Island holds grandeur very different from other resorts such as Brighton or Bournemouth, but attracts equivalent numbers of holidaymakers in the summer. What is astonishing is the fact that the whole resort was developed and owned by Ken Rogers of HyperValue, and the shots of this resort reflect on the life of the entrepreneur who created it.