The contexts of both our individual interiors and shared exteriors has been altered. We are hyper-conscious of bringing elements of the outside into our homes, breaking our safe-haven and heightening the collective feeling of unease. The hours being spent inside has us hankering for fresh air and human-touch. We’re nurturing our relationships with 2 meter gap conversations, waves from behind the safety of glass; through buffering video calls on laptop screens and catching snapshots of people’s lives past the blue-tacked pictures of rainbows on their windows. These glimpses of familiarity perceived through barriers and screens help and hinder. I have gathered content that explores this altered relationship with interaction. This selection "builds on considerations around surfaces that seemingly 'separate' worlds. The skin of human bodies, the walls and windows of our homes and the screens of our technologically advanced devices, all become case studies to explore blurred antinomies of notions of 'inside' and 'outside'.”* 

I have been compiling fictitious protagonists that seek out solitude such as the protagonist in Joris-Karl Huysmans novel Against Nature who shuts himself away in his elaborate and excessive French villa in hopes of “deadening the thunderous din of life’s inexorable activity.”** Alongside works that are made to be viewed through various forms of barriers. I want to explore the ideas of being both the spectator and the enclosed, for example; can you be any more contained than by a body of water? These experiences offer an unfamiliar viewing / seeing experience, that need to be in the room, that require your physical presence, to have the opportunity for touch is stripped away by these obstacles; which is enveloping and rebuffing.

 

* Tünde Huber, Director, ACF, February 2020 in Hypersurface Publication https://www.acflondon.org/events/hypersurface-exhibition-opening/

** Against Nature (A Rebours) by Huysmans, J-K, translated by Baldick, R, 1987, Penguin Books

Below Deck

07.05.20 - 14.05.20

Assembled by Saoirse Lewis 

                 Excerpt from Against Nature (A Rebours) by Huysmans, J-K, translated by Baldick, R, 1987, Penguin Books

 

This dining-room resembled a ship’s cabin, with its ceiling of arched beams, its bulkheads and floorboards of pitch-pine, and the little window-opening let into the wainscoting like a porthole. 

Like those Japanese boxes that fit one inside the other, this room had been inserted into a larger one, which was the real dining-room planned by the architect. 

This latter room was provided with two windows. One of these was now invisible, being hidden behind the bulkhead; but this partition could be lowered by releasing a spring, so that when fresh air was admitted it not only circulated around the pitch-pine cabin but entered it. The other was visible enough, as it was directly opposite the porthole cut into the wainscoting, but it had been rendered useless by a large aquarium occupying the entire space between the porthole and this real window in the real house-wall. Thus what daylight penetrated into the cabin had first to pass through the outer window, the panes of which had been replaced by a sheet of plate-glass, then through the water and finally through the fixed bull’s-eye in the porthole. 

On autumn evenings, when the samovar stood steaming on the table and the sun had almost set, the water in the aquarium, which had been dull and turbid all morning, would turn red like glowing embers and shed a fiery, glimmering light upon the pale walls. 

Sometimes of an afternoon, when Des Esseintes happened to be already up and about, he would set in action the system of pipes and conduits which emptied the aquarium and refilled it with fresh water, and then pour in a few drops of coloured essences, thus producing at will the various tints, green or grey, opaline or silvery, which real rivers take on according to the colour of the sky, the greater or less brilliance of the sun’s rays, the more or less imminent threat of rain – in a word, according to the season and the weather. 

He could then imagine himself between-decks in a brig, and gazed inquisitively at some ingenious mechanical fishes driven by clockwork, which moved backwards and forwards behind the port-hole window and got entangled in artificial seaweed. At other times, while he was inhaling the smell of tar which had been introduced into the room before he entered it, he would examine a series of colour-prints on the walls, such as you see in packet-boat offices and Lloyd’s agencies, representing steamers bound for Valparaiso and the River Plate, alongside framed notices giving the itineraries of the Royal Mail Steam Packet Line and the Lopez and Valéry Companies, as well as the freight charges and ports of call of the transatlantic mail-boats. 

                 

Vitrine - K245 

Above left: Sophia Mairer, Untitled, untitled, oil, ink, acrylic, lacquer, polymorph, woven paper, steel, magnets, dimension variable, 2019 

Above right: Sophia Mairer, There is a color inside of the fucking, but it is not blue, oil on canvas, 160 x 210 cm,  2019

Bottom: Sophia Mairer, Untitled, oil and lacquer on cotton, 29 x 24 cm, 2019

Courtesy of the artist.

the self as machine

mocking distance

through the armoured glass

of the aquarium

as if from the other side

of a screen

an unexpected connection

electric fluid circulating

as fictitious Luigi

shakes shanks

and fearless admiration

soft and permeable

Sophia Mairer

Courtesy of the artist

Nora Adwan, The Screens, 2014

Courtesy of the artist

                  Excerpt from Paradise Rot by Hval, J, 2018, Verso

I imagine the city underwater: only a few church spires, silo pipes and the City Hall clock tower reach the surface. The roofs continue into the sea in broken lines, mirror images seen from below. On the other side of the brewery the mountainside disappears into the water’s surface, and the silo organ pipes gurgle, barely above the salt water. The ocean floor is covered in white, a layer of matte limestone made from billions of white spiders - no - bones and skeletons from forest animals and tenants - or is it beer foam?

 

Inside the house there’s still air, but the walls are dark, soaked with water like a treasure chest. Water drips through the keyhole. And slowly, so slowly that I almost don’t notice, the sea covers the grass tufts on the floor like a glittering salt carpet and starts rising while it whispers:

 

Full fathom five thy father lies;

Of his bones are coral made;

Those are pearls that were his eyes;

Nothing of him that doth fade, 

But doth suffer a sea-change

Into something rich and strange.

 

Javier Chozas, The story of the eye, perspex, dyed latex, steel plynth, 2018

As part of Still Waters Run Deep at Tenderpixel, 2018

Courtesy of the artist

Aimée Parrott, Vitrine, 2019

As part of Recent Activity's ongoing series Nomadic Vitrine

Courtesy of the artist

CGT.jpg

Left: Charlie Godet Thomas, Songs of Concern (Vague Ends), 2019

Below: Charlie Godet Thomas, Watching for Love Cars, 2014

                   Excerpt from Point Omega by Delillio, D, 2010, Picador

The fatigue he felt was in his legs, hours and days of standing, the weight of the body standing. Twenty-four hours. Who would survive, physically and otherwise? Would he be able to walk out into the street after an unbroken day and night of living in this radically altered plane of time? Standing in the dark, watching a screen. Watching now, the way the water dances in front of her face as she slides down the tiled wall reaching her hand to the shower curtain to secure a grip and halt the movement of her body toward its last breath. 

A kind of shimmy in the way the water falls from the showerhead, an illusion of waver or sway. 

Would he walk out into the street forgetting who he was and where he lived, after twenty-four hours straight? Or even under the current hours, if the run was extended and he kept coming, five, six, seven hours a day, week after week, would it be possible for him to live in the world? Did he want to? Where was it, the world? 

He counted six rings. The rings spinning on the curtain rod when she pulls the curtain down with her. The knife, the silence, the spinning rings.

It takes close attention to see what is happening in front of you. it takes work, pious effort, to see what you are looking at. He was mesmerized by this, the depths that were possible in the slowing of motion, the things to see, the depths of things so easy to miss in the shallow habit of seeing.

CO Tree in Bathroom_99-B.jpg
CO Sea in Attic_94.jpg

Left: Abelardo Morell, Camera Obscura: The Sea in Attic, 1994

Copyright Abelardo Morell, Courtesy the artist and Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

Right: Abelardo Morell, Camera Obscura: Tree in Bathroom, Little Compton, Rhode Island, 1999

Copyright Abelardo Morell, Courtesy the artist and Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

Thanks again to the artists for their contributions. For links see below:

Nora Adwan

Javier Chozas

Charlie Godet Thomas

Sophia Mairer

Abelardo Morell

Aimée Parrott