The multimedia artist Cudelice Brazelton IV was born in Dallas and studied in Germany, where he now lives. The notes for this show, Brazelton’s first in London, state he spent some time in between “working in Ohio’s industrial foundries”. That sounds like, but doesn’t quite explicitly state, that he had a job in a factory. Or maybe it was a fancy art residency.
Either way, the sounds and sights of the factory floor are clearly a major inspiration. The show's not much to look at at first glance: we see a few, small wall-mounted metal boxes, gridded with tensioned rubber bands. One of these is attached to a Singer sewing machine pedal on the floor, and lights up from within when the pedal is pressed.
Another box has an implacable little square of grey foam stretched across its surface, and is studded with two white beads pressed eye distance apart. It stares at us. On the other wall, a section of sheet metal has a single inkjet printed phrase in its centre: AUTO PICTURE.
These aesthetically underwhelming but vaguely threatening objects, sparsely displayed, seem like industrial products, factory-produced. Auto pictures, automatic art. You can’t help but think Brazelton didn’t have a great time at his “industrial foundry”, regardless of whether he was there as a labourer or on a bursary.
The show’s themes are threaded together with Abrade (2022). This time, the sheet metal is cut in an Art Deco-style shape, bringing the viewer back to the 1930s, a time in which artists like Charles Sheeler and Stuart Davis portrayed factories and industry as pristine engines of progress.
Brazelton undercuts this 20th century sentiment by slotting into the back of his work a grainy inkjet print of a shabby factory floor. Echoing through the gallery, and emanating from this work, is an ambient soundtrack which sounds like it was taken live from the seventh circle of hell. According to the show notes, it's actually a recording of a giant factory magnet moving metal train couplers along the line.
The sounds were recorded by a local musician, at the very same factory that Brazelton worked. “Abrade” means “to scrape or wear away”. Everything degrades and falls apart eventually, he’s telling us: even the toughest industrial materials.
Cudelice Brazelton IV: Tensors is at Cell Project Space (London). 22 September - 20 November 2022