Curated by Elinor Morgan
The Spirit of the Staircase presents new work by artists Beth Collar, Danilo Correale, Andrew Gillespie, James Parkinson, Sue Tompkins and Marie Toseland. The work circles various processes of translation from a range of linguistic, material and bodily positions.
When translated, information, whether within a digital file, an ancient artefact or a nuanced linguistic phrase, is lost and new material and meanings are formed. I am interested in the time – whether seconds or centuries – that something is in translation. As cultural artefacts travel they are put through a state of transposition, accumulating different readings through time and context.
Through the development of this show we have spoken about the translation of language and symbols, the transposition of text to voice and back again, the interpretation of archaeological records and topological strata, the systems of coding in international finance and business and how new ideas and materials might be formed from replicating existing artefacts and reworking substances.
Symbols, Logos and Codes
Andrew Gillespie works in print, collage and sculpture. He extracts, cuts up and re-contextualizes corporate language and overwrought logos to make repeated motifs. The emotionally loaded symbols he uses have become hollow in their over-abundance. Here he scatters them across concrete and plastic sheeting, mimicking urban jetsam and making new fragmented landscapes.
Danilo Correale’s series Boosted (2014) also appropriates and subverts commercial branding with a critique of the god-like perfor- mance offered by the expanding energy drink market. His recent work looks at the commodification of leisure, rest and sleep, critiquing the conversion of intimate details and body rhythms into data that can be mined, owned and influenced. In NoMoreSleepNoMore (2015), a documentary about the condition of wakefulness in postmodernity, Danilo invites experts (an anthropologist, historian and physician) to discuss Western culture’s relationship to sleep and the encroachment of ill health, societal and financial pressures on the time we give to it.
The Voice as Text
Sue Tompkins’ works on paper could be poems, codes, patterns, scores or instructions. They bring together fragments from life: humour from overheard conversations and the onomatopoeic sounds of remembered pop songs collected and collaged. Sometimes they are layered with dense patterning and sometimes spare, poised words emerge. Sue uses a typewriter to make these works: they are formed and printed simultaneously; the editing is in the making. The typewriter’s simple mechanisms informs the rhythm of the text. In a recent conversation Sue said to me: ‘Being alive is a frightening thing. But it’s the only thing.’ I find these idiosyncratic collections of thoughts and moments poignant. In Sue’s absence we are asked to decipher and translate, giving voice to the tempo and cadence of someone else’s thoughts.
Memory and Excavation
In January 2014 Beth Collar made a performance where she read a transcription of a televised interview with Bosnian Serb soldier and alleged war criminal Borislav Herak. The interview, in which Herak admits to horrific crimes, was later discovered to have been made under duress: there are suggestions that parts of Herak’s responses were scripted for him. The text that Beth read represented layers of imagined and real actions, remembered, fabricated, spoken, recorded, transcribed and re-spoken. Following on from this, Beth’s new body of work attempts to conjure some sensation of the space from which international journalists wrote the story of the Sarajevo Siege (5 April 1992 to 29 February 1996) folding versions of truth, reportage, rumour and fiction together.
‘She drew her twos from the bottom up’. The opening of Marie Toseland and Sophie Mallett’s collaborative piece recalls a precise detail and asks how and why we remember things in particular formation, with particular foci. The text contrasts the sharp metallic tang of a medical procedure with hazy, meandering impression of memories and associations. Like Marie’s sculptures, this work talks about our failure to capture, preserve and vivify with objective accuracy.
For Marie casting is erotic: it entails an intimacy with surfaces and a filling of spaces. It means one thing being smothered by a new thing that is trying to replicate or reproduce it. Her replication of forms in obstinately different materials makes objects that are visually perfect and materially corrupt. Let down in their materiality they cannot be what they mimic.
James Parkinson uses casting to loop proxies, references, copies and reproductions. He explores the space between the actual and the virtual to look at notions of representation, embodiment and provenance. His new work, presented for The Spirit of the Staircase, shows a moment when the original and the replica exist tangled within each other, with the volume of the sculpture fixing the invisible void of its now deconstructed apparatus.
Beth Collar (b. Cambridge, 1984) lives and works in Bristol. MA Sculpture, Royal College of Art, London. Projects include: residency, Rupert, Vilnius, Lithuania, 2015; ‘Fig-2’, ICA, London, 2015; ‘Anatomy of Anxieties’, Edouard Malingue Gallery, Hong Kong, 2014; ‘Edi- tion One’, residency and exhibition at Detroit, Bristol 2013/14; ‘From script to reading to exhibition to performance to print’, Rowing, London, 2013; ‘We Object’, Aid and Abet, Cambridge, 2013, ‘Whitechapel London Open’, Whitechapel Gallery, London, 2012. Recent performances include: ‘a Probably, Like a Melon Rolling off a Table, Part II’, for Saturday Live, Serpentine Gallery, London, 2015
Danilo Correale (b.1982, Naples, Italy) is based in New York, USA. MA, Visual Art and Curatorial Studies, NABA Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti, Milan, Italy. Recent solo shows include: ‘The Missing Hour: Rhythms and Algorithms’, Raucci/Santamaria, Naples, Italy, 2015; ‘The Game, a football match with 3 goals’, ‘Gino Manni’ stadium, Siena, Italy, (supported by Fondazione Ermanno Casoli), 2013; ‘The Warp And The Weft’, Peep Hole, Milan, Italy, 2012; ‘Pareto Optimality’, Supportico Lopez, Berlin, Germany, 2011; ‘We are making history’, Entrèe Gallery, Bergen, Norway, 2011. He has shown widely in group exhibitions and biennials including: 5th Moscow Inter- national Biennale parallel event, curated by Andrey Parshikov, Moscow, Russia, 2013; Performa 13, curated by Randi Grov Berger, New York, USA, 2013.
Andrew Gillespie (b. 1984, Birmingham) lives and works in Birmingham. BA, History of Art, St John’s College, University of Cam- bridge, Fine Art, Ruskin School of Fine Art and Drawing, Oxford. Recent shows include: ‘Studio Capri’, Syson Project Space, Notting- ham, 2015; ‘Birmingham Show’, Eastside Projects, Birmingham, 2015; ‘Jaywalking in the Marina’, Sentinel Space, Birmingham, 2014; ‘CO’, Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham (with Tom Godfrey) ‘Conversation #5’ with Jack Lavender and Hannah Lees, Milling- ton|Marriot, London, 2014; ‘Apartment 4’, Clermont Ferrand, France, curated by Hannah Lees, 2013; ‘Crossing the Rubicon’, Gerald Moore Gallery, London.
James Parkinson (b.1989, Leicester) lives and works in Bristol. BA, Fine Art, University College Falmouth. Recent exhibitions include: ‘When Two or More Come Together’, SWG3 Studios for Glasgow International, 2014; ‘Flatfile: Hold me around the other’s body’, Eastside Projects Birmingham, 2014; ‘Dumb Shadow’, Supercollider Contemporary Art Projects Blackpool (2013); ‘Facing That’ (solo), WORKS|PROJECTS, Bristol (2013), and ‘Six Paintings’, Malgras|Naudet, Manchester (2012).
Sue Tompkins (b. 1971, Leighton Buzzard) lives in Glasgow. BA, Painting, Glasgow School of Art. Tompkins received the Paul Hamlyn Award in 2011. Solo exhibitions and performances include: ’dug nature’, Inverleith House, Edinburgh (Part of GENERATION 2014); ‘Space-Time: The Future’, Wysing Arts Centre, Cambridge, 2014; ‘Letherin through the grille’, White Columns, New York, 2014; ‘Come to Ozark’, Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow (as part of Glasgow International’s Director’s Programme), 2014; ‘Expressions’, The Modern Institute, Glasgow, 2013; ’Skype Won’t Do’, Diana Stigter, Amsterdam, 2013; ’SEA DEEP’, Galerie Micky Schubert, Berlin, 2012. She has exhibited in numerous international group shows: ‘Film and performance: The Voice Is A Language’, Tate Modern, London, 2012; ‘British Art Show 7: In The Days Of The Comet’, Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow, 2011;
Marie Toseland (b. 1987, Derby) is currently based in London. Royal Academy of Arts Schools (forthcoming); Open School East, 2015 She is currently working in collaboration with Sophie Mallett on a number of projects. Selected Exhibitions: ‘Breaking up is Hard to Do’ (parts 1 & 2), Karst, Plymouth & NGCA, Sunderland (Curated by George Vasey), 2015; ‘pushin’ sumthin’ nice’ (feat. Kinlaw), The Gallery, Plymouth College of Art, Plymouth (solo), 2015; ‘Emergency 6’, Aspex Gallery, Portsmouth, 2013; ‘Plan for a Ruin’, Islington Mill, Manchester, 2013; ‘Death Blooms Out’, WORKS|PROJECTS, Bristol (solo), 2013; ‘Rotate: The Potential for Windows and Scale’, Contemporary Art Society, London, 2010. Residencies include: Artist in Residence, Tate St. Ives, Cornwall, 2014; ‘Stranger than Fiction: Journeys from Books to Art’,
Elinor Morgan is Senior Curator at mima, Middlesbrough. Prior to this she was ESP Programmer at Eastside Projects, Birmingham; Artist and Programmes Curator at Wysing Arts Centre, Cambridgeshire and Chair of the Committee at OUTPOST, Norwich. Elinor is currently Jerwood Visual Arts writer in residence.