At All the Round Earth's Imagined Corners 2016 was made for Uncommon Chemistry curated by Dan Howard-Birt in the Observer Building, Hastings.

Concrete, pigment, house paint, spray paint, bulbs, lamp holder, electrical cable, plugs, light stand.

Photos by Tim Bowditch

At All the Round Earth's Imagined Corners 2016 Installation at The Observer Building, Hastings. Photos by Tim Bowditch

BLISS (Simon Bayliss &_____ Lucy Stein)/Lydia Brockless/Adam Chodzko/Esther Collins /Julia Crabtree & _____William Evans/Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard/The Grantchester Pottery/Jacqui Hallum /Sophie von Hellermann/Clyde Hopkins/Dan Howard-Birt/Nicholas Johnson/Henry Krokatsis/Harry Lawson /Hannah Lees/Fiona MacDonald/Tim Meacham/Simon Periton/Gino Saccone/Toby Tatum/Susan Taylor/Pauline Wood  

Uncommon Chemistry is an exhibition interested in the parallel artistic leitmotifs of material agency and arcane spirituality, and how the conscious engagement with one or other of these territories provides valuable analogies for the broader understanding of art-making and art-viewing. Namely that there is always something which lurks beyond the artist’s control, which brings a work to life and enables it to mutate and evolve through different contexts of time and place.

Intensions are fine; honed skills are a rich resource; practiced methodologies are a scaffold, but there are always some unexpected or uncontrollable factors which influence works as they are made in the studio, or as they are viewed in a gallery.

Contingency is that breath of life that allows artists’ works to be free of the tyranny of ideas and authorial predetermination. Contingency is the influence of the world beyond the artist’s control on the shaping of an artwork’s form or significance. Contingency is the muscular tightness, or anxiety that prevents a painter’s stoke from elegantly describing a perfect contour. Contingency is the impact of a damp studio on the patina of a sculptural surface. Contingency is the unscripted dialogue or attitude in an actor’s performance. Contingency is the changing light conditions on a pigmented surface in an exhibition space. Contingency is the way breaking news or personal experience refocuses an artwork’s casual allusion, bringing unexpected issues centre stage. Contingency is the acknowledgement that all art making is in some way a dialogue, and that meaning can only temporarily coalesce somewhere between the maker and the object or document. And, that likewise, meaning is fugitive for the viewer as they engage with a film or a painting within a temporary exhibition.

Material agency and the realm of the spiritual are contingencies. A given material’s inbuilt behaviour such as the crystalline flowering of chemical sulphates or the globular puckering of melted plastics can be harnessed by an artist within their process, but only so far. Spirituality proposes an even stranger furnace for a work to be forged. Archly irrational, the conjuring of ley lines, dope hallucinations and religious rituals all securely place an art object on the edge of what might plausibly and logically be comprehended. Material agency and spirituality meet in alchemy, but each retain their own distinct power to affect, inform and undermine.

The progressive and utopian drives of the 20th and early 21st centuries are periodically interrupted by unexpected dalliances with the blatantly irrational, often at moments of extreme cultural anxiety such as global conflict, the wholesale failure of political ideologies, the explosion of networks for personal influence or the digital atomising of individual identity. It is no surprise then that some artists today are bending to the potency of these irrational contingent factors within their studios.

Text by Dan Howard-Birt from his wepage here.I

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