Archives for the month of: March, 2013

Too much night, again. Pae White, South London Gallery
13 March to 12 May 2013

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Visited the South London Gallery yesterday to see Pae White’s installation ‘Too much night, again’.

The exhibition guide says it is about insomnia and the ‘transience of our existence’. Thousands of lines of coloured yarn spell out the ‘words’: TIGER TIME and UNMATTERING, apparently random words at a ‘super graphic’ size that carry the weight of an unknown dream significance. I don’t think unmattering is a word, but that doesn’t matter I suppose. Originally Tiger Time was going to be  Tiger Tiger until someone pointed out that Tiger Tiger is a UK bar chain. However Tiger Tiger also recalls William Blake’s poem The Tyger, which begins: Tyger!, Tyger!, burning bright / In the forests of the night, / What immortal hand or eye / Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

Through an intricate construction of mapping, criss-crossing and iteration letters are revealed and words are built and the yarn pools at the stress points of the letterforms. But it isn’t one continuous thread. Each length of yarn is tied off at both ends to either a letterfom point or a ‘control’ line facing the letterform. This is understandable but a bit disappointing as the work as a whole is not under tension, it just appears to be. Conrad Shawcross had the same problem with Chord, a ropemaking installation in the Kingsway Tram tunnel in Holborn, London (2009). Two machines spun strands of string into a thick ‘hawser’. There was insufficient tension, or rather tension was not sustained as the work progressed and props were needed.

What I think is really successful about ‘Too much night, again’ is the work’s powerful physical presence, the installation’s material and spatial qualities are striking. When you first enter the gallery and walk instinctively beneath the apex of the crossing threads it is very easy to walk right into the fragile looking yarn because the multiple and densely interlaced lines create a disorientating layered ‘fog’ effect where it is impossible to judge what is near or far. The exhibition guide says you have to position yourself within the installation to read the lettering and I found that I couldn’t read until I had measured myself against the yarn itself.

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This is from the Běla Kolářová (1923–2010) retrospective at Raven Row.

There are collages and assemblages of paperclips made from paperclips, a razor blade made form hunders of razor blades and works that look like digital circuitry which on closer inspection reveal themselves to be made out of buttons, snap fastners, hairgrips, pins, makeup, bottletops and hair.

‘Běla Kolářová pioneered an art based on intimate objects often associated with domesticity and the feminine.’

Raven Row
31 January to 7 April 2013