In 2015 and 2016 Drop City and MAUVE collaborated on a gallery exchange.
at MAUVE, Löwengasse 18, 1030 Wien
Eleanor Wright, Nadia Hebson,
Paul Becker, Sam Watson
Upon entering S is fundamentally aware of the nature of the space. You will agree this is uncommon. Most domestic interiors are to be perceived (if perceived at all), as nothing more than rat runs, thoroughfares between work and rest, passageways into the world with all the edges filed off for smoother access. Nondescript. S is is aware of every connection between every nuance she chooses to put into place to surround her self. What is placed where, exactly where and precisely why. How? Well certainly via her own design. She identifies various issues, directionless mundanities within domestic and public space (both, in their own way, the same), converts these issues directly into patterns – her own elaborate framework, and creates a connective web of solutions to resolve them. This is a patterning only she can see, only she can read. Allusions to spiders and their lairs, spiders that sense even a gossamer touch on the strands of their woven web. S is such a spider. S is such a web and the prey she hunts so keenly is the space itself.
On entering, S mentally senses and, in a sense tunes those chords within the space that she first encounters. She reads the terrain, scans the patterns, searches for signs of passing; pausing for the scent. She feels the soft dark wood that frames the screens as she pushes them apart. She is aware of the scent of the lacquered paper. Now, again, this night as on so many others, as she slips her feet upon entrance into the felt slippers awaiting her, she is composed, undistracted, even by the proximity of a mosquito. The soft shunting sound of the screens needs to be attended to, adhered to. It takes a degree of concentration to get the timbre just right when one pulls each screen apart simultaneously because the sound, when it properly occurs, occurs in tandem, and that it splits like this, so rapidly in both directions, like the swish of two scimitars, gives her a feeling of the profoundest satisfaction. When it is done right (thus) it is as though one experiences it in perfect stereo, out of both ears, or rather the separation of both ears when set against the lateral direction of both halves of the screen enables the sound to come from one source overall rather than two sources, experienced ahead rather than from side to side.
Then comes the delightful sensation of one particular floorboard which maintains creaks so ancient and deep that to tread on them just so (her practised foot, thus) elicits an inner response remarkably similar to what one would experience on the couch of a decent chiropractor: a set of rhythmic clicks along the spine, each one ramifying into its neighbour.
Then the room appears as S walks to the top of the stairs.
S’s mornings in bed represent unique events, a state completely her own, a time of great mental activity. She uses the first solid hour upon waking as a period of careful study, gauging the levels of interference, intercorrelations between herself, the objects around her, the volumes of space inhabited. Again, the patterns. Whether all the constellations within the cosmic sphere of this interior align correctly.
To S, no term is further from reality than ‘still life’. When is it ever still? She understands that every block of stone reverberates with a hundred different kinds of active life. The job of the sculptor, the artist, is to harness these multitudinous impulses, not to fix them but to free them, the animate power the stone holds in the grip of its stasis.
S understands that she is herself somehow subject to certain levels of control or influence exercised by three ordinary ornaments or objets d’art lined up at perfect intervals on a shelf or mantlepiece at the centre of the room, a mantlepiece much higher than the usual, so as to exist beyond the height of its function. These three effigies are sculpted from different stones or moulded from clay and are to S, the vital components in her structuring of the room’s elements and by extension, her own. These three tiny sculptures are not household gods to be worshipped daily and neither are they fetishes to be harkened to, ritualised, given offerings of salt or rice.
Certainly they began as thoughts turned into forms.
The first, the least powerful also holds sway, for S, at certain moments in the room’s intrinsic balance of power and for S it goes without saying that the absence of its touchstone position in the equilibrium, the absence of its levelling presence, and the whole invisible equilibrium of the room would cause it to implode, fall in on itself like a sack of feathers. It is the carving of a small child, a girl, leaning against a lamppost, her eyes portraying nothing, her cheek against the metal. This object provides the mid-tone, the median and stands at the far left of the mantlepiece or high shelf.
Off to the far right of this is a carving of unknown origin that might easily have been unearthed at one of the more down at heel curio shops of Piraeus. It could also have been dug up by archeologists of a previous century from any number of ancient sites around the world, from Palmyra to Tenochtitlan. It portrays two creatures, equally cat and dog, engaged in a tug of war with the severed head of a queen, her crown intact. There is that about this savage object that implies a hope forlorn, something sickening, a useless sacrifice. It carries a weird gravity and the innate implication that no amount of blood spilled will appease the cruel god or gods that lie within it. This image controls the lowest register of the room, the heated ardour, the magnetic pull at the bottom of everything and it is to this object, tiny enough to fit into a child’s hand, that S brought the tributes she imputed it called for when the balance shifted down towards the blackness, the darkest of hearts. The chaos, the ballast of blood that had to be released upon occasion, were summoned by this image.
The final sculpture, the epicentre of the room, the ultimate catalyst for the various fields, the patternation humming with secret energy, discontinuous and non-symmetrical (although always balanced even in their misalignment). This is the central point which, at times, manifests in the person of S herself. The image is a series of shapes, geometric shapes, no more, an underlying obsidian black coloured in places by the speckled mosaic of shell and turquoise, the object seems to weave in and out of itself, curves and abstract folds, presenting shapes that are no shape at all, impossible that it could ever have been made from the material that it was formed from. For S, it hums with atavistic female energy, the magnetic pull of warring forces.
How do these objects relate or interact? Is their relationship that of puppet, manipulator and voice and if that is the case, what sort of factor is S in this shared equation or symbiosis? As each separate feature can be identified, could it even by defined as a system? How is its influence manifested? Is S a component, its audience or its amanuensis?
She lies in bed, motionless and considers nothing of this, observing the patterns only; senses awaiting the tiniest vibration.
Paul Becker, b. 1967 Windsor, lives and works in Gateshead, UK
Paul Becker’s work is concerned with the possibilities of narrative and extends from painting into literature, film, theatre, performance and biographical fiction. Collaboration is an increasingly important part of his work and recent films and performances have been made with the artists Francesco Pedraglio, Johannes Maier, Tess Denman-Cleaver and Giles Bailey and curatorial organisations like CIRCA Projects in Newcastle and FormContent and Auto Italia in London. He lives and works in Gateshead.
Eleanor Wright, b. 1984 London, lives and works in Newcastle, UK and Düsseldorf, DE
Eleanor Wright’s practice makes visible the patterns between design, people, materials, objects and architecture – addressing existing perceptions and hierarchies that exist within the exhibition format. Through both manual and industrial processes she transforms real objects or environments into sculptural forms and symbols – generating a sculptural language that reflects her holistic attitude towards art and wider culture. Collaborating with curator Sam Watson, and drawing on shared interests in ideas of space, production, collaboration and the perception of objects, Eleanor Wright/Sam Watson have set out to form a dialogue around the agency of exhibition making; interested in treating their individual practices as a collaborative praxis, developing a framework that is built through collaboration and dialogue with others.
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