What happens when a work hugs too tight; when it refuses to grant the viewer the distance for a cool, detached reading? Or when a work overloads; when it showers information, references and signifiers upon the casual bystander?
Taking it's title from the novelist Gertrude Stein, Bottom Natures sets out to explore ideas of proximity and pace, in relation to artwork. Stein used the expression to describe the structuring and word-play found within Tender Buttons, her book of poetic vignettes on Objects, Food and Rooms. Tender Buttons playfully dismantles words and meaning to their bare-essentials. When reading, a gap appears between cause and effect - a break in the chain of connectives, which forces the reader to stop and grapple with language; how to make sense, what sense and for whom.
This exhibition will explore the Bottom Nature of art and art making. In this context, Bottom Natures is a state which renders the viewer tongue tied or dumbstruck. This obstructive state has the potential to mislead and muddle ones mental faculties and perhaps, to better question what grounds these faculties in the first place. The exhibition features British and International artists, working in an array of media, including painting, drawing, sculpture, and video; with works that deploy repetition, humour, ambiguity, and contradiction to muddy the viewer's reading. It includes an interview with theorist and critic Sianne Ngai, whose essay Stuplimity, has informed the exhibition's focus. There will also be a coinciding day of lectures and presentations from invited speakers, organised by theorist and writer, Matthew Clements.
Anthony Green's Absolute Redundancy, will function as a prologue for the exhibition. This graphite drawing is composed of two black holes on a slightly soiled but otherwise empty, page. The drawing slips between depiction and abstraction: in one sense it is empty, devoid; in another these are holes or stumps, exits and entrances; and because it is both and neither, it tires itself out. Other works include Lucy Clout's Shrugging Offing, a single-channel HD video, set in a pattern cutting studio and inspired by her research into ASMR youtube entries; and a newly commissioned, large scale, plasticine wall relief, by Laura Morrison. These works will operate on a range of tempos and intensities, to interrogate the thematic of Bottom Natures. The specially commissioned interview and coinciding events day offer an alternate platform for considering the exhibition as a whole, and extending these ideas beyond the gallery remit.
1. Sianne Ngai. Ugly Feelings (p278), (First Harvard University Press paperback edition, 2007)