Within the branch of mathematics known as set theory, the symbol 'à' represents what is called 'The Empty Set'. A set is a group of objects. The Empty Set is a set that contains no objects.
There is a crucial difference between à and 0. 0 is zero; it represents nothing, a total lack. It is a signifier that attempts to signify that which is not. It is a tool of logic, and it can never escape the abstract language from which it comes. Its use in mathematics is pragmatic and without contradiction, but outside of mathematics it fails to make sense simply because in language, as in art: things exist, nothing doesn't. à is different, it points to a tangible lack of a particular thing. It is an absence within certain parameters. The parameters are what give the absence meaning. The parameters are all that is left.
An artist erases, or removes, or stops, or blocks, or stays silent, or rearranges, or leaves out, or doesn't act, or doesn't make. These actions are an attempt at emptiness. But as actions, they are not empty. They are surrounded by contextual pressures, and this is where we can find the critical use of à. In all these actions, there is a pre-meditated decision to remove oneself from something, a sort of enforced akinesia. A moment of emptiness that gestures outward to what is still there and to what that might mean.
Exhibition curated by Andrew Sunderland and Matthew de Kersaint Giraudeau