NEW WORKS AND A NEW ERA FOR GRETTA SARFATY (Private View: 19 March, 18:30 - 21:30)
The last show to take place at Gretta's space in King’s Cross, is a self-referential extravaganza about the artist career.

The artist revolutionizes the idea of a retrospective exhibition, a fresh new ars poetica… The exhibition offers us a glance into the future experiencing the past. Gretta has directed her own Fellini’s 8 and ½ finale. At the opening night joined by artist’s friends she will exhibit artworks that reinterpret her memories)
. (click here to read review)

Familia Memorabilis 2013. Mixed media on canvas 81 x 122cm

The series Wedding Pictures captures the flow of ‘real time’, reviewing the photo album of Gretta’s first wedding. Each page is transformed into digital format, assembled into pairs so as to create a single image. Using image manipulation to alter the private and public perception of the self, these pieces act as a mirror in which Gretta’s projection of herself creates an optical illusion of reality. Evoking joy and frivolity, a paradox remains ever-present as death is transposed with images of the artist’s youth.

Familia Memorabilis presents several snap-shots that preserve specific moments of the artist’s personal life. Revealing the instability of photographic reality – which immortalizes lived experience – works reveal a paradigm shift between past and present. Aesthetically poignant, they investigate the mind as archive, simultaneously unsettling the viewer whilst giving them glimpses of moments that otherwise remain private.

Continuing with images of the artist, Ira Schneider's film Video of Gretta Painting 1988/2013 will also be exhibited.

(click here for photos of the exhibition)


Gretta Sarfaty invited some friends-artists to interact with 9 sheds situated on her roof terrace overlooking Kings Cross. THE SHED is the intersection between the inside and outside, a British symbol of sanctuary that opens a new world of dreams and possibilities. Invited artists: Olly Beck, Gordon Beswick, Katerina Botsari, Simcha Elias, Mikey Georgeson, Russell Herron, Liz Neal, Paul Tecklenberg, Harry Pye, Jill Rock, Richard Taylor, Florin Ungureanu. Russell Herron curated shed with Marianne Spurr and Stewart Gough.

Was the original gallery space making Gretta Sarfaty claustrophobic and trapped once more? She has been using the sheds as a space to store her many lives.
Here past experiences are combined with new experimentation and transformation.


Family Portrait Shed Installation 2010. Gilded antique frame, stand, several photos collage on shed

Gretta Sarfaty's interactive performance is situated within the context of the artist's ongoing concept, which documents the search and evolution of a potential muse. ‘Through a Glass Darkly' exposes to the audience Gretta's latest virtual reality. The whole process lead to a sequence of digital photographs being created that subtlely hint at the voyeuristic performance.

Click here to see film of the live performance - WARNING EXPLICIT CONTENT


1. Virtually Real
‘For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face.
Now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.' Corinthians 1:13

This infamous labyrinthine phrasing that was St Paul's love letter of the metaphysical to a Corinthian religious sect two millennia ago, still today evokes a subdued chamber of endless mirrors offering brief glimpses of self and the unknowable ‘other' with a prediction that through these oblique reflections, the ‘I' will somehow meld with this unreachable entity lurking somewhere in this place of refracted depths.

Age old theological interpretations aside this sense of watching through glass darkly has distinctly modern-life-experience allusions. These days we have a new religion. Daily we peer into an array of dark ‘windows', from the screens of news and entertainment to the plasma fields of information and social networking. Along with our door keys we cannot leave the house without our mobile phones from which we can gaze through at other cyber worlds while on the move. Over such a short period of time we have suddenly hypnotised ourselves with an endless choice of computer gadgetry with which to experience the world.

There is no doubting the advantages of all this great technology, but like anything too much of a good thing can cause unwanted side affects. This hypnosis through a screen darkly can sometimes overtake us. Reality can become comfortably unreal as blood runs through digital streams rather than through pulsing veins. The distance of the real opens up like a gulf of unbridgeable non-existent highways; life becomes a daily mantra in an obsessive labyrinth of virtual truths.

What then, when we find ourselves thrust into a ‘real' situation staring through a glass door at a ‘real' person who does not appear to be aware that we are there watching them? And what if that person has no clothes on and is going about there daily business as if in an office, like some bizarrely displaced piece of internet pornography?

Perhaps the premise sounds ludicrous but maybe not as ludicrous as some of the situations we find ourselves in, when traversing the virtual world. And like all powerful performance art, this premise that is Gretta Sarfaty's newest work offers up the idea that we are all voyeurs ultimately trying to find something of ourselves through the act of gazing.


2. The World is Gazing Back at You

The idea of the mechanics of the gaze through flattened pictorial fields has an established art historical unfolding that really took a firm hold at the birth of modernism.
Its champion was the painter Edouard Manet. Manet turned the relationship between viewer and artist on its head by insinuating through his work that the viewer was implicated into the mirroring construction and narrative of a painting.

The most famous and didactic example is ‘Un bar aux Folies-Bergere' (1881-1882) in which we see a young woman serving drinks in a Parisian bar. She stares out at us from behind the bar as if she is about to serve us. But behind her there is a large mirror that fills most of the picture plane. Here we notice a man, a rather dandyish looking character, she is about to serve. But through a clever use of perspective trickery we realise that Manet's intention is that that man could be us. Further more, as the critic and curator Thierry de Duve has noticed, the bar maid is blushing at ‘our' looming approach. The blush, that most involuntary and sign/signified of human responses. The emotional response of the ‘other' reflecting back at us in a labyrinth of a different possible narrative origins and consequences.

This repositioning of the spectator in relationship to artist/author was momentous in its influence on modern art and still holds a huge sway on the most interesting aspects of contemporary art. In terms of performance art it is crucial. Gretta's performance work has always and continues to explore this relationship.

With her performance ‘Through a Glass Darkly' the array of potential emotional and intellectual responses are endless as we peer through the murky mirroring glass at the naked ‘office worker'. And most of all it is ourselves watching ourselves through that most vulnerable states of the ‘other' in this strange place of the virtually real.

Olly Beck. London , January 2010
For more on Manet in relation to the notion of the contemporary gaze see: Thierry de Duve, Look, 100 Years of Contemporary Art, Ludion, 2001.


The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.
- Albert Einstein.

Gretta's Permutations is a journey into the artist mind. Viewers will experience through her new installation a cosmological ricochet which is conceptualized through repeated images of bananas, self portraits and geometric exegesis. The Shield of David represents in Judaism the six points that rule the universe and protect us from all six directions: North, South, East, West, Up and Down. Others believe the Shield is made strong by two interlocking triangles that form a hexagon pattern of support points. In Kabbalah, these two triangles represent the dichotomies inherent in us such as good vs. evil.

Gretta is interested in synchronicity and meaningful coincidences. For this show she is playing with science and our heads. Photographs of herself and bananas have been placed in ordered sequences in front of a symbol of the Shieldof David. Possibly bananas symbolize Brazil , where Gretta grew up. The photographs show the artist mysteriously seated on a rooftop with her eyes open.

True to form this show sees Gretta deconstructing her own identity. But whereas in the past the conduit of her own body and face were played within classic feminist tradition, as can be witnessed in her 1970's self portraits in the lower gallery, here Gretta deconstructs her own religious roots. Contentious indeed it is to collage a giant Star of David on the wall in these crises ridden times where religion is often sited as a major contributor to global relational breakdown. However it is easy to overlook that the artist may simply want to explore her own identity in terms of her religious heritage. This installation can be seen as a testing of the religious ego. A sort of theological deconstruction laced with a cosmological optimism.

The show features Gretta's Progress by Gordon Beswick. This half hour documentary charts the rise and rise of Gretta Sarfaty Marchant. The film mixes archive footage of Gretta in New York in the 1980's with interviews of the many young London art stars who have collaborated with her and believe her to be the least bored and least boring artist alive today.

"It's a poor sort of memory that only works backwards" - Lewis Carroll (Alice Through The Looking Glass).



Gretta's Permutations 2009 Multimedia installation (9m x 11m x 9m)