Australian National Capital Artists (ANCA) Gallery, 24 August – 11 September 2016.
Caren Florance, Nicci Haynes, UK Frederick & Katie Hayne, Sarah Rice, Jen Webb, Jordan Williams.
Catalogue available to read here.
This work is the first of my created ‘reading spaces’. Gallery visitors are encouraged to sit and handle the books with clean hands.
touching/reading/touch is a small series of publications that demand physical engagement rather than the receptive separation usually required in a gallery. Each piece explores its own production and invites the reader to be curious and interactive.
The physical distance of making is one of time and place, yet here we are, you and I, sharing the experience of touch.
1 Touch to Activate (2015).
Letterpress & offset ink on paper.
2 Mark (2009).
Letterpress on paper, sewn.
3 Swipe (2015).
Photocopy on paper, hand-sewn.
4 Touch 00100000 (2016). Typewritten paper, coil binding, jar, tweezers.
Material poetics is, as usual, a matter of translation and context.
Poet Charles Bernstein says ‘Poetics is the continuation of poetry by other means’ (1992: 160); so too, material poetics is the continuation of materiality towards other meanings.
Every discipline has its own perspective on what materiality means to its work. Writers think about the various applications of material words to form metaphors. They also riff upon the material processes of writing: pencils, pens, keyboards, screens, fingertips.
Visual arts and craft disciplines – when they are resisting pure opticality – work with ‘direct engagement with specific material properties’ (Adamson 2007: 39), which means foregrounding the qualities that belong to that particular material: e.g., the heavy softness of lead; the fluidity of paint; the bite of acid; the clarity of glass. These elements can be explored/resisted/expanded on a purely physical level, but when you add an exploration of what associative meanings can be embedded in a material, then we are moving closer to the way writers think, and closer to material poetics.
Not only is lead heavy and soft: it lines caskets; prevents x-ray vision; forms printable letters; draws a line. It has connotations and associations, different for everyone according to their experience and understanding.
These contextual associations can become building blocks, allowing the material/s to carry/project/represent the artists’ desires in a way that (hopefully) offers further possibilities for the viewer/reader/audience to find their own message.
Messages change over time, and the ‘familiar’ can never be taken for granted. Material poetics is two-pronged: it is performing Heidegger’s ‘thingness of the thing’, and it is embuing the thingness with one’s own knowledge of its context and history to tease out new connections. It is performance, spectacle, dialogue, negotiation and degustation all rolled into one.