LONDON, 28–30 June 2019: Assembly Point (Peckham): 'A Dance of Scales'

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Taking inspiration from Jean-Luc Nancy’s The Sense of the World (1993), this exhibition investigates how our actions within the world create meaning. The internationally active artists — gathered together from Chile, England, Korea, Switzerland, and the United States — offer diverse possibilities to cope with the loss that is happening in our shared quotidian. From global perspectives to personal experiences, they address “the end of the sense of the world” and look towards its potential for transformation.  

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Exhibition installation shots by Arturo Guzman and Mathilde Heu.

Curatorial Statement:

Entering the gallery, the viewer is faced with Rodrigo Arteaga’s To Measure (2019). This work is part of the artist’s ongoing interrogation into how sciences have sought to define and categorise the natural world. According to Arteaga, marking the leaves of a plant with sequence of numbers is both “a poetic, performative gesture of attention and care” and an obsessive act of classification that reveals the limits of trying to rationally interpret nature. For this newly commissioned work, the artist selected a Eucalyptus globulus tree, whose plantations are destroying the biodiversity of Chile and creating tension between the government and local communities. The devastating impact of monocultures worldwide reflect how dominant knowledge systems have failed to understand and take care of nature. As Arteaga comments, “we weren’t capable of understanding that a forest of a single species of tree is not a forest. It is a construct, so we replaced reality with a construct.”

To Measure is closely related to Gina DeCagna’s Restless (Refrain from Suspense) (2019), a site-specific poetic installation of corrugated cardboard that is constructed to resemble natural formations. Whereas Arteaga transforms a living plant into a sculptural object, DeCagna reconfigures artificial material into an organic structure, drawing attention to how practical acts can make sense of the world. This work is part of an ongoing project where the artist sources cardboard from areas across London and reassembles the recyclable waste into aesthetic masses, which change in scale depending on their position inside or outside the conventional art space. For DeCagna, cardboard represents “the most commonplace, transportable medium of consumerism within our post-industrial, late-capitalist society.” In piecing this material together to form an alternate assemblage, DeCagna probes us to search for ways to collectively rework the systems within which we exist.

The relation between the singular and the collective becomes more apparent in Nayoung Jeong’s 100 Korean Finger Prints (2016). This single-channel video work documents a performance by the artist where she explores the notion of home in relation to her experiences as a mixed cultured person. For the Korean artist who lives between New York and London, “home becomes a path to be forged, rather than a place to rest.” Jeong enacts this journey within a built enclosure that resembles a Um-jjip (traditional Korean pit-dwelling). The culturally specific structure is lined with clay, a “borderless material,” and holds hanging silicone moulds that constitute “one hundred Korean fingers.” Through imprinting the fingers into the clay, Jeong performs her singularity as part of an active plurality. During the exhibition opening, the artist will present Repeat after ‘The End of the World’ 2019, an original performance and lingering presence that prompts audiences to sense their way through culturally diverse environments.

Mathilde Heu examines movements between micro and macro worlds in her multi-sensory installation and encompassing drawing. In Parcae (2019), the artist reactivates the female embodiments of destiny who spun the thread of life in ancient Roman myth. The entanglement of fluorescent tubes pulsate with human breath, suggestive of the external forces that have long been used to explain and control our existence. Heu further interrogates this search for meaning in Que Faire? (2019). Detailed lines and crevices sprawl across the page, evoking both body and landscape, interior and exterior. The fluid forms consume the viewer, pushing them to dismiss all certainty and experience their body as both within and outside the world. The artist also presents Palm 2014, a cluster of ceramics modelled on the palm of her hand. Constantly shifting from the familiar to the unfamiliar, the hybrid forms unsettle the construction of meaning and focus on the space in-between.

In response to the other works in the exhibition, Teal Griffin has disseminated minute sculptures into the gallery. From birthday candles and balloons, to dead bumble bees, dried flowers, and a discarded tea-bag from which a small tree has sprouted new life, the pieces act to link the artworks in the space. They reflect the conceptual apparatus of the exhibition in which, as the artists comments, our encounters with the small, the incidental “can help relate to, or attempt to make sense of the ungraspable.” Griffin also presents a collaborative performance with the Nigerian-American multi-disciplinary artist Babatunde Doherty. The performance is inspired by the sound of the “world’s loneliest whale,” an individual whale of an unidentifiable species, who calls at an unusual frequency of 52 HZ. Taking the form of a responsive jam-session where one member is physically absent, the work highlights how meaning depends on interrelations.

‘A dance of scales, focusing on the small to make sense of the ungraspable’ looks towards the creative possibilities that arise from what Jean-Luc Nancy terms “the end of the sense of the world.” By this, Nancy means that it is (and always has been) impossible to comprehend the world in its totality, and the only way to make any sense of our fractured experiences is through divergent movements within the world.2 The artist in the exhibition navigate the uncertainties of our time, prompting us to reconsider how we perceive things which, by the very nature of their scale, seem incomprehensible — the death of a close person, our destinies, the planet’s future, experiences of belonging (and not belonging), and ways to reimagine the systems of knowledge and power that continue to dominate our quotidian. How do these things make sense? You are encouraged to find your own answers, while engaging with the artworks on display, making connections between them, with the worlds they come from, and those they want to see.

—Giulia Menegale & Alice-Anne Psaltis

 

 

[1] Jean Luc-Nancy, The Sense of the World (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997), 4–9.

[2] Ibid., 4–9.

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A collective reflection and creating session with artists Cicilia Östholm and Alex Parry.

Bios

Rodrigo Arteaga is a Chilean artist whose practice draws attention to the relation between nature and culture. Cultivating a new approach to human awareness and understanding of the environment, he wonders about the knowledge process within the interactions between diverse disciplines, such as anatomy, botany, cartography and astronomy.  He has had solo shows in Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, UK; Kostka Gallery-Meet Factory, Czech Republic; Sobering Galerie, France; Galería Tajamar, Chile; Galería AFA, Chile. He has exhibited his work in collective exhibitions in Hong Kong, France, Germany, Spain, Bolivia, Perú, Puerto Rico, Argentina, Chile, Venezuela, Colombia since 2009. He has been a part of International Biennials such as: IV Poli/Graphic Triennial of San Juan, Puerto Rico; Bienal Internacional SIART 2013, La Paz, Bolivia; 11th Bienal de Artes Mediales, Santiago, Chile. He has completed an MFA in Sculpture at Slade School of Fine Art (2016-2018), and a BA with a Major in Printmaking at Universidad de Chile (2012). http://www.rodrigoarteaga.com/ENG

 

Gina DeCagna is an emerging American artist based in London, currently pursuing her MFA at Goldsmiths, University of London. Her material-based and site-specific works engage participants in the creation of visual-poetic associations. During her BA in English, Creative Writing, and Fine Arts from the University of Pennsylvania, she founded, edited, and directed a publication and community of over four hundred collaborating artists and writers known as Symbiosis (2012–2016). DeCagna’s art has shown in solo and group exhibitions in Philadelphia, New York, and forthcoming in London. She is a 2019 Venice Biennale Fellow under the British Council, serving as a representative of both Goldsmiths and the UK. https://www.ginadecagna.art/about

 

Teal Griffin is a London-born artist who has recently graduated from the MFA at Goldsmiths in 2018. His practice takes shape through a multidisciplinary process of bricolage. Working with sculpture, painting, video, text and spoken word, he makes installations that hover in the quiet pockets of listening and waiting, where the small and still become political tools. The subjects of his work often depart from the personal - his ageing dog Zen, his late father, his first wrinkle. Through a process of orchestration, constellations of the found/encountered/ experienced are nurtured and grown into that which can perform their own fictions; objects become surrogates and fragments are reconstituted to form new wholes. This is the space of small-world play, micro and macro moments, in which focusing in on the small becomes a means to relate to, or attempt to make sense of the ungraspable. https://tealgriffin.com

Since September 2017, Griffin has been collaborating with the Nigerian-American multi-disciplinary artist  Babatunde Doherty (aka Baba Ali), invocating crossovers in their practices.

Mathilde Heu is an emerging Swiss artist based in London. Encompassing drawing, writing, sound and sculptural elements, Heu’s practice researches forms of the ‘infrathin’: infinitesimal differences between two phenomena. Interested in the ambiguity between micro and macro-worlds, she explores porosity: the passing between interior and exterior. She often confronts the viewer with large installations and drawings - we are held outside, fixed to an edge; the work asks us to lean, to fall, so it might enter us instead. Alongside her practice, she carries out critical and analytical research which achieved reputation in the IAAC 2017 (International Awards for art Criticism). She has recently graduated from Royal College of Art (2016–2018) and won the People's Choice HIX Art Awards (2018). http://www.mathildeheu.com

Heu’s sound and light installation Parcae 2019, features LED lighting graciously provided by LEDFlex, ledflexgroup.co.uk, with technical support by Abnormal Design, abnormal.design.

 

Nayoung Jeong is a Korean artist and researcher living between New York and London. She uses clay bodies and ritualistic performances to provide a sense of social belonging among mixed cultured persons who are experiencing the social and political realities of global displacement. After her MFA in Ceramics at Rhode Island School of Design, she is a Ph.D. Candidate at Slade School of Fine Art, University College London. Selected works are currently part of the permanent collection at the National Museum of Slovenia, Ljubljana, and at the Guldagergaard International Ceramic Research Center, Denmark. https://nayoungjeong.tumblr.com

 

Alice-Anne Psaltis is an arts educator and curator currently undertaking her MA Art & Politics at Goldsmiths, University of London. Prior to moving to London, she worked as Public Programs Officer at the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art and Education and Public Programs Officer at the University of Queensland Art Museum, Brisbane, Australia. In 2015, she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Honours (Class I) in Art History form the University of Queensland and was awarded the Donald Tugby Prize for Art History. Alice-Anne also maintains a practice as an arts writer, and has written for Emaj: Online Journal of Art, Runway: Australian Experimental Art, Jugglers Art Space, Arts Management Quarterly, and a forthcoming audio piece for K[]noesh Space: On the Politics of Space and Cultural Intervention.

Gina DeCagna