Objects of Transcendence was an exhibition I co-curated with Irini Papadimitriou
Exhibition Dates: 20 January – 5 March 2017
Location: Watermans Art Gallery [link]
Publication essay by Nella Aarne
Objects of Transcendence looks at how the object can transcend its individual meaning to make a social or political comment. It brings together the work of leading contemporary artists Ele Carpenter, Jeremy Hutchison, Jasleen Kaur and Matthew Plummer-Fernandez.
The exhibition explores how each of the artists focuses on materiality in their own art practices and how the language emerging from the object can draw our attention, challenging our way of seeing reality, and rewarding us with new perspectives on a range of contemporary issues. From portraits built from Amazon’s purchase-behaviour algorithms to everyday items bathed in radioactivity, this is an exhibition that will spark new ways of thinking.
About the work
In Singularly Assured Destruction: A laboratory for measuring variable risk perception, Ele Carpenter creates an amateur laboratory of uranium glass. This glass is one of the most familiar everyday sources of radiation found in our domestic spaces, and is sourced from antique centres and charity shops in the UK. The artwork highlights the uncanny nature of radiation, and the need for a wider understanding of the behaviour of radioactive isotopes in the environment.
Matthew Plummer-Fernandez reveals the way online consumers profiles are constructed. In Customers Who Also Bought, a series of portraits are created entirely by algorithms, finding shoppers and product images. Each person’s Amazon buying habits automatically create a collage that is strangely beautiful – and resembling Italian Renaissance painter Archimboldo’s renowned portrait heads made of objects – while posing the question: is this who we are?
Jeremy Hutchison’s i- explores the human body as a product of consumption and part of material culture. Have you ever noticed the hands that hold the objects we desire: the i-Phone, or the i-Pad? The artist considers how these disembodied body parts come to represent something different from the people they belong to.
Jasleen Kaur’s new work Slightly Awkward Feeling investigates ‘aspirational materials’ and aesthetics of British Asian homes and Gurdwaras, looking at how the decorations and furnishings, through use, have taken on a new perceived meaning and created a kind of Indian aesthetic.