Nick Hackworth

Jane and Louise Wilson, Lisson Gallery

Essays & Reviews Evening Standard

Jane and Louise Wilson, nominated for the Turner Prize in 1999, are fairly unique in the art world - they make video work that is worth watching. Most video art infesting our galleries scores few points in the aesthetic, intellectual and emotional stakes. It is a genre in which barriers to entry are low: simply press the record button and you're off.

The Wilson twins, however, have recently been making work that is aesthetically pleasing and sometimes powerful, often evoking quite subtle emotions and thoughts. The identical sisters, now 36, have worked together since 1989 when they presented identical degree shows, despite being at different art schools. Their early work tended to be quite daft, featuring them tripping on LSD or prancing around in cat-suits with prosthetic feet in place of hands. As their ideas have developed, they have increasingly left themselves out of the work, relying instead on thoughtfully shot footage of strange or significant environments, such as the old Stasi HQ in Berlin, to create meaning.

This show features two videos, one of which, Dreamtime, was included at the dismal opening of the Baltic centre last year, and two recent series of still photographs, which depict the interiors of hightech factories, giving them an uncanny feel.

The new work is their best yet and also the straightest filmmaking they have done. Monument (Apollo Pavilion, Peterlee), is shown on four screens hanging from the gallery ceiling. The five-minute film centres on a concrete pavilion designed by the artist Victor Pasmore in Peterlee, County Durham where, from 1955-1977, Pasmore tried his hand at urban planning, aiming for a "synthesis of painting and architecture".

The lazy antics of the five kids who scramble around the structure along with its decaying state are enough to deflate the implied pretensions of the architect but simultaneously the film, with its beautiful cinematography, appears also to celebrate the building and the dreams that it expresses in concrete.
Dreamtime is a seven-minute, 35mm film, documenting the launch of the first manned space mission to the International Space Station. Also without dialogue, it uses sound and a non-chronological sequence of shots to play past against present and juxtapose images of the thrusting Russian rocket against shots of empty rooms, where the stillness and absence makes all the pomp, circumstance and noise seem absurd and transient. Working the best tradition, the Wilson twins achieve a unity between content and form, evoking significant responses with some beauty.

Jane and Louise Wilson's work is showing at the Lisson Gallery, NW1, until 3 May. Information: 020 7724 2739.