7 January — 28 February 2010

The Cassiopeia Plan was an informal trilogy of three video works that together offered a narrative journey for the viewer to travel through and reflect upon. In the works, Waller proposes ideas of co-operation and redemption; in manoeuvering out of dead-ends and towards new unlikely visions.

Mark Aerial Waller: The Cassiopeia Plan

White Stag, 2001 consists of a film, a drawing and a sculptural work and is a humorous adaptation of the ancient Roman myth of Diana and Actaeon. Actaeon, having accidentally seen Diana bathing, is changed by her into a stag. Reinterpreting Actaeon’s desire, depicted by the Roman poet Ovid’s original myth, Waller locates the narrative within a modernist, open-air swimming pool. The Cassiopeia Plan begins therefore with two individuals faltering on the brink of a journey towards the white stag’s idyllic pastoral landscape. In the work, Diana’s binoculars lead us into a sublime vision.

Within the gallery installation, a Bedouin tent offered a strange, intimate and idyllic space for contemplation and relaxation, in which different films were presented including a yoga instruction video and a meditative image showing a Moroccan fountain. As part of the tent, a carpet presented several reference books that encourage further discovery.

Towards the rear of the gallery was Waller’s latest work, commissioned by Wysing Arts Centre, shot on location at the centre and including a cast of participants all of whom came forward following a public call during late 2009. In the film Waller examines further improbable encounters of different narratives and spaces.

The work reflects on the relationship between the individual and the collective; influenced by the absurd and satirical paradox created by G.K. Chesterton in The Man who was Thursday. In the 1908 novel, a poet is forced into a conflict between the forces of structure and anarchy, unaware of how intertwined the competing forces are. Waller’s film was inspired by this improbable story and the momentum of being together; albeit in unexpectedly changing roles and actions. The work references even more unlikely action; from the fascinating horror film Dead of Night (1945), to local encounters beyond Wysing.

The Cassiopeia Plan reached an improbable climax by bringing all these unpredictable encounters together.

With special thanks to: All participants in the film and production: Amy Botfield, Debby Lauder, Helen Stratford, Helen Judge, Honor Carter, Julie Brenot, Mark Ross, Patricia Derrick, Sally Jane Webster, Tim Goldie, Nick Barber and Simon Mullen and Gloria Sayer and The Roundabout Revellers, Great Gransden.

As part of Wysing's Year of the Improbable, Mark Aerial Waller also curated a series of events.

A review of the exhibitioin in Frieze Magazine can be read here.