Selected Press Comment
“..about as frustrating as video art can get.”
The Solo at Ikon Eastside
The Solo is the latest film by artist Andrew Cross to celebrate the subject without resorting to seemingly literal visual metaphors. In much of Cross’s work the subject is omnipresent by it’s absence, it’s deliberate omission literally burns the retina.
Adrian Friend – Blueprint Magazine Online 21 July 2010
The exhibition starts in total darkness. The film begins with an image of Palmer playing a single drum. On an adjacent large-scale screen, a close up of the detailed drumming and footwork can bee seen. Four speakers, one in each corner, periodically emit percussion sounds, making musical patterns that traverse the room. The spatial effect of sound is experienced as a powerful and physical environment surrounding the viewer. Characteristic of Cross’s work, the build-up of intense expectation is followed by a feeling of absence.
Five drum pieces have been collaboratively developed and filmed from various viewpoints. [An Ostinato] shows only Palmer’s torso and feet as military-style drumming evokes the space of a Kieferesque landscape. Cross describes this piece as emotionally close to the landscape where he grew up: Salisbury Plain with its armoured tanks and heavy military presence. [Cymbals] consists of a shot of the shiny brass undersides of ringing cymbals. Visually they form a continuous horizontal streak reminiscent of Turner’s golden sunsets.
Stephen Lee – Art Monthly September 2010
Time is mobilised weirdly in Andrew Cross’s art. The English artist’s photographs and videos of trains and railways and, recently, locations for 1970s rock festivals – now silent green fields – feel wedded to the past but situate one in the present, in an expectancy only a shade away from tedium. Its fitting, then, that his two-screen film The Solo, takes as its lucus a historical phenomenon which has cleaved many an audience between rapture and regret: the drum solo.
If Cross delights in the unhip – or at least the questionable or maligned, like trainspotting – then in Carl Palmer, whose soloing is this film’s burden of action, he may have found his perfect subject. [Cross] makes Palmer a serious proposition rather than a punchline.
The Solo is as much about time’s relentless loops as anything; but its most salient moments might be those where the viewer is bored. At these points, the imprisoning one-way street of video art – you can’t fast-forward it – finds its reflexive analogue in precisely what is represented here.
Martin Herbert – Art Review September 2010
As Palmer builds his solo from a single snare into a full drum onslaught, Cross’s close up focus and minimalist editing defiantly and almost provocatively rescues a musical genre from cultural obsolescence.
Robert Clark – The Guardian 3 July 2010
An English Journey
..a quietly chilling work.
Owen Hatherley – New Statesman 11 May 2009
Thoroughly engrossing mainly due to the artist’s attention to composition and framing, plus his ability to create a feeling of suspense through the simple play between stillness and the expectation of movement.
Helen Sumpter – Time Out 15 February 2006
Andrew Cross’s artwork from the last five years retains an analytical curiosity derived from his previous, successful curatorial career. An English Journey is films and photographs which explore the true façade of the English landscape as it is these days commonly experienced when going about our high-speed travels. The overall impression is of a lush landscape, an awfully malleable and somehow alien world, barely glimpsed beyond the dense and tense networks of international commerce.
Robert Clark – The Guardian 2005
Coming across like a frictionless computer simulation of the driving experience, what [Cross’s] work achieves is a state of suspension, a productive boredom wherein it is possible to stop and consider how social changes (such as globalisation) manifest themselves on the landscape; how the tended earth itself has been, since the advent of agriculture, constantly in a state of Heraclitean flux.
Martin Herbert – Tate etc. Summer 2005
Foreign Power (Beck’s Futures ICA London March – May 2004)
Andrew Cross has been a trainspotter since childhood. His digital video Foreign Power is shot beside the tracks of the US rail network. We wait. The camera doesn’t move. The day passes. We are at the mouth of the longest tunnel in the US rail network. Birds sing, insects bat the lens. The black tunnel entrance fogs with smoke. No train comes. Somehow this is interesting; all the waiting and expectation, all that time suspended. In the second scene, the track zooms to a distant vanishing point. The clouds are high, the tress in full summer flush. Eventually something happens – and it is certainly unexpected. The final image is a stalled image, two white wagons frozen on the screen, a second train passing behind.
Watching all this I thought of structuralist film-making of the 1960s and 1970s, and of early cinema – specifically the Lumiere brothers’ 1895 The Arrival of the Train, which had film’s first audience panicking and climbing over their seats in a bid to escape the approaching engine. I also recalled composer Steve Reich’s Different Trains, which like Cross’s Foreign Power is intended as a kind of meditation about where the tracks go and what cargo they carry. In Reich’s work they lead across America , and on, in a cattle truck, to that terrible vanishing point at Auschwitz. As much as waiting for trains in Foreign Power, we are waiting on an event both banal and whose magnitude we cannot grasp. The pictorial qualities of Cross’s work are important too – our place besides the tracks, the blackness of the tunnel’s mouth and where the perspectives lead and mislead us.
Adrian Searle – The Guardian 30 March 2004
My vote goes to Andrew Cross, a real trainspotter-turned-artist, whose films of tracks and tunnels have all the scary, glacial suspense of web-cams.
Oliver Bennet – The Observer 28 March 2004
Cross’s work is clever, cruel and if you hang around lone enough, quite funny.
Martin Coomer – Time Out 7 – 14 April 2004
Andrew Cross takes his camera to the Cascade Mountains near Seattle. But instead of celebrating the sublime, epic grandeur of the countryside, he concentrates on filming the mouth of the longest train tunnel in America. We watch with him, waiting for a locomotive to erupt from the darkness. Although smoke seeps from the tunnel, only a distant6 unidentifiable sound can be heard. Cross calls the three-part work Foreign Power suggesting imminent invasion. And the sense of expectancy he creates in each sinister sequence becomes almost unendurable by the end.
Richard Cork – New Statesman 12 April 2004
Andrew Cross takes us into arenas more mundane. His work looks at railway lines in the US, mixing almost resentfully artful scenes of stillness with sudden images of industry; train-spottingly insipid yet somehow quite brilliant.
Huw Lewis Jones – Varsity April 2004
Andrew Cross in his short films made on the US rail network, transposes the notion of waiting and travel into a formal proposition. Mechanical sound becomes musical, direction and speed a vector within a drawing and a tunnel full of smoke a living painting with obvious art-historical provenance. Anticipation, a well-wielded video-art tool, is not so infuriating in this instance, as we accept it as a meditative, even literary, aspect of travel.
Sally O’Reilly – Modern Painters Summer 2004
Quoted from Neil Campbell The Rhizomatic West: Representing the American West in a Transnational, Global, Media Age, University of Nebraska Press 2008
Whether about American trains or highways, [Cross] cannot help but evoke romantic, emotive journeys of departure and arrival, yearning for the open roads of Jack Kerouac or the boxcars of Woody Guthrie, drawing himself and his viewers back through personal and cultural memories tinged with excitement and guilt. Cross works from within his own memories and imaginings of the West, drawing on his own journeys through England as a child to project onto the iconic journeys implicated in any representation of the American western landscape.
The romantic yearning and excitement so often associated in the European mind with the West, is however tempered by an uneasiness that places the viewer ‘between’ these responses, aware of the ideological baggage such romance carries in the twenty-first century, of the price of that supposed mythic freedom, and the reality of technology, economics, and class that actually determine and underpin these American cultural values. Cross’s work consistently wrestles with such issues, pulling his viewers between these poles of mythic yearning and political recognition asking in an under-stated, cool manner for us to look again, to literally and metaphorically re-vision our identities within landscape.
Despite the inherent mobility of [Cross’s] landscapes, there is often a deliberate stillness to these photographs, ceasing the flow, re-routing the eye, creating moments in time where the visual experience dwells, encouraging the viewer to engage with the image or the film sequence. As always in Cross’s work it is in moments like these that we shift from the banality of the everyday and the endless repetitions of the journey into another sphere where ironic and critical narratives are created, emotions and memories emerge, and our perceptions are shifted. Something we never noticed takes on a significance all of its own and juxtapositions disrupt the immediacy of the frame: the absolute beauty of an RV park in Nevada, the surreal absurdity of a sign reading ‘Wrong Way’ on the highway, or the sheer immensity of the railroad cars leaving Wagner Mills, Nebraska. Although inevitably always an outsider to the West he records, what Cross reminds us under globalisation’s glare, is what we have always known, that ‘west-ness’ is translated everywhere in the ‘real’ and ‘imagined’ landscapes of everyday lives, as likely evident in Rugby, Warwickshire as Rugby, North Dakota.
Quoted from North & South exhibition catalogue, Southampton City Art Gallery 2007
Andrew Cross is recognised by many for his work relating to the American landscape and its railways over recent years, but he has also made a particular point of taking a somewhat oblique view of the English landscape. The centrepiece of his 2004 exhibition An English Journey was a 110-minute road film featuring a lorry en route from Southampton’s container terminal to out-of-town distribution parks near Rugby and Manchester. A conscious nod towards J. B. Priestly’s classic state-of-the-nation tour made in the 1930s, An English Journey gives an account of how England’s post-industrial consumerist economy is reflected in its landscape.
Most of the film is shot from the driver’s cab of the featured lorry, offering a view not witnessed by most. This formal approach to filmmaking—in which the camera is vehicle, and a given vantage point influences the perception of place—informs Cross’s new work commissioned for North and South. One half of ‘English Field’ is a thirty-minute film, shot in a single take from a glider overhead, recording a view of Salisbury Plain.
The subject of ‘English Field’ is the area of agricultural and military land near the village of Upavon, where the artist’s father was farm manager during the 1960s. Through the evolution of his art practice, Cross has come to recognise that many of his interests and own sense of place—not least an attraction to wide open spaces, which he frequently finds in many parts of America, but also the understanding of landscape as both a site for production and a setting for machines—refer back to his early childhood spent in this corner of Wiltshire.
Quoted from Bernadette Buckley Andrew Cross: An English Journey, Film and Video Umbrella/John Hansard Gallery 2004
Passivity is paradoxical activity. This is what I’ve learned from Andrew Cross’s work. [-] But waiting, like passivity, is another paradoxical activity – a slow happening in which nothing happens. This is what I I’ve learned from Samuel Beckett’s work and have recognised again in Andrew Cross’s – that this nothing is nevertheless something meaningful.