BluePrint - June 1998
Surveying the city
In About, Dryden Goodwin's new video installation for Paved With Gold, the current exhibition at Kettle's Yard, Cambridge, the camera is perpetually in motion. filming sometimes from a boat, sometimes from the window of a train or bus, walking along a street or travelling on an, escalator, the artist roams the city in search of faces. His subjects vary in their responses to this intrusion - a child waves, a man grins, others look shifty or stare fixedly into the distance - and, depending on their behaviour, the tone of the film alters. Often it provokes associations with covert surveillance operations of stalking. Occasionally, as when the camera follows a boy riding a bicycle, it disturbs - suggesting TV news horror stories of abduction and abuse.
Goodwin's voyeuristic approach to the urban environment is typical of the work in show. According to curator Simon Wallis, the work by nine artists - beginning with Walter Sickert and coming up to date with contemporary photographers like Rut Blees Luxemberg and Hannah Collins - is intended to "reveal the pleasures and tensions to be had from observing the urban situation". Thus Sickert's vibrant sketches of street life in turn of-the-century London and France (criticised at the time for their banal subject matter) reflect his desire to "render the magic and poetry which [city dwellers] daily see around them", while. Lisa Milroy's paintings of houses in Kyoto evoke a sense of hidden, ordered lives.
Ultimately the show's success lies in Wallis's juxtaposition of a set of artists with contradictory approaches and differing styles. Goodwin's challenging installation therefore sits comfortably alongside John Riddy's remote, uninhabited photographs and the apparent dichotomy merely evokes the rich variety of experience that is inherent in city life.