Preview: Jordan Baseman – The Most Powerful Weapon in this World

Jordan Baseman, Nasty Piece of Stuff 2009 (film still), Courtesy of the artist and Matt’s Gallery, London, Co-commissioned by ArtSway and The Photographers’ Gallery, London

Exhibition: Jordan Baseman – The Most Powerful Weapon in this World, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, until May 9 2010

Jordan Baseman knows a thing or two about juxtaposition, as you might expect from an artist with roots in the US who now lives and works in the UK

At Baltic he uses unlikely images to give three documentary type films a poetic twist. Sound and vision collide.

The soundtrack really carries the story. Each video is put together around an often candid interview in which Baseman explores themes of identity with his subject.

Inside Man listens to a career criminal talk about his CV with particular reference to his past sexual conquests against a backdrop of original music. But the woman seen dancing with friends is taken from archival footage shot in 1977.

On another film we hear the voice of a gay activist talk about the difficulties he faced coming of age in the 1960s. He sounds calm, but the16mm footage of Soho in more recent times is frantic.

The show is rounded off with something more sedate. An octagenarian recounts her experiences collecting herbarium specimens for the British Museum, Kew Gardens and the Royal Botanic Gardens. But the clash of words and picture are still unsettling.

Like the others, she has been displaced by the films she appears in. Her identity is in question as surely as if she was crossing a border.

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