A gigantic baby, a foppish boy and a drowned man weep and drool, failing to learn anything. A nameless crowd careens down a hole, forever – or forms letters in choreographed formation. A spartan, looping piano piece by Jürg Frey is performed in a concrete cell, a hermit’s cot and a bucolic garden in midsummer. Reflexive information panels essay a barbaric real world entirely absent from the exhibition. Credits roll to denote an ending that never begins, and social media corporations sponsor everything, seemingly unbidden.
Atkins has created a new series of works that build upon the allegorical possibilities of his particular brand of video making, shifting the aesthetic into ever more precarious areas of desire, historicity, melancholia and stupidity. Atkins is known for a series of video installations peopled by CGI surrogates, animated by motion capture performances and voiced by the artist himself. In his more recent work, the artist has expanded his exploration of the medium, tempering affecting autobiographical figuration with broader issues arising as a consequence of the form’s exponential preponderance. Where previously death was the precondition of love and the logical end point to the wants of representation, Olde Food presents a system that’s at once less morbid and far less romantic. The world of Olde Food is always-already lost, persisting regardless, with no mortal redemption in sight. Olde Food never rots, never moulders – it simply persists, a world of melancholy where what was lost remains outside the possibility of ever being understood, let alone retrieved.