Olivia Plender @ MK - Milton Keynes

The British artist Olivia Plender is currently showing at MK Gallery, Milton Keynes, her project "Rise Early and Be Industrious" (20 April - 17 June), which  also be presented at Arnolfini, Bristol (14 July - 9 September) and Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow.

"Devised as a 'museum of communication', four room-sized installations are organised thematically, drawing on a broad range of references to explore how attitudes towards mass education have evolved over time. The artist also questions how official historical narratives are constructed, looking at hierarchies behind the 'voice of authority' that is traditionally produced by educational institutions within the public sphere, such as the museum, the academy, the national library and the media".
Playing: "Set Sail for the Levant" 2007 @ MK Gallery
The installations are: "Words and Laws (Whose Shoulder to Which Wheel?), where after a full visit, we (Lee, Shira and I) decided to return to attempt to play the 'Set Sail for the Levant' (2007) board game, based on the Goose Game, in which the players attempt to achieve social success without much debt or other such tragedies, such as being constantly sent to prison. The game is beautifully drawn, in similar fashion to the sixteenth, seventeenth century engravings. In this room there is also the possibility to interact with another game, quite common in kinder-gardens, where one attempts to build, with wooden blocks, architectural type of structures. On the wall, it can be seen, as in a sort of interrupted wallpaper, possible models. This work, "Social Construction" (2012) is based on the nineteenth century model developed by German educational reformer Friedrich Froeble.

Olivia Plender "Set Sail for the Levant" 2007
"The New Jerusalem", "Open Forum" (2008) and "Entrepeneurial Garden" (2010), are the other installations on view. The last one being a reorganisation of the working space of the receptionist according to google ideals. "This installation seeks to explore how distinctions between work and leisure, public and private, are collapsed within the apparently playful workplaces characteristic of contemporary media companies", which were at MK Gallery quite successful, by allowing the visitor to relax and inspect as audience of an artwork, in/within an art work, the labour of the two gallery assistants trying to deliver information about the exhibition to newcomers and extract information about the visitors once they're ready to depart. In between savouring tea from a Google branded cup.

On the 9th of June, Plender will be in the Gallery to discuss the themes and ideas behind her work. (Saturday - 3pm).