The Space Between (beneath and beyond)
‘The Space Between (beneath and beyond)’ grew from conversations with artists Jemma Grundon and Jessica Bartlett to accompany the exhibition ‘The Space Between’. Reflecting its experimental ethos, words are allowed to weave spidery webs of silvery thread, sewing seams, casting shadows and making gestures beyond the gallery walls. The present is given a past / future and memories are materialised and spoken, smudging the surface as they unravel to say ‘I remember’[i].
“But your eyes proclaim
That everything is surface. The surface is what’s there
And nothing can exist except what’s there.”[ii]
On surface…Through light and shadow emerges a paradoxical urge for an impermanent permanence – a fleeting moment fossilised, a cloud captured, a leaf pressed between two pages and a tree reflected in its own reflection… acts of containment creating their own ‘space between’, hovering above and below the surface, lingering inside and out, pushing upwards and outwards. Surfaces expand, layer-upon-layer in oil and resin, or lie excavated, pulled apart with heat and metal… Memories litter the surface, tiny traces of aura, scattered but no less sacred. Memories of materiality, memories of objects lost and found and memories of a moment… The need to hold and harbour hangs in the air like a savoured morsel wrapped in linen; a photograph tucked between dusty pages; a lock of childhood hair that slithers from a ribbon’s silken grip… Memories litter the surface. Each mark, each line, each layer a trace. Even these words memorialise, dotting the page like headstones… ‘I remember’…
On space…The space between is a bridgeable void, it is fecund ground, an interval or a lingering pause, a release of breath, both time and place; heterotopian, a break between words, a mutable boundary, a porous surface (for ‘everything is surface’), simultaneous, a collision, a transition, transformative, mobile and multifarious, possibilities exist and memories are retrieved and remembered.
…space hangs between works, between visibility and nothingness, between fragility and solidity, absence and presence, the constant search to ‘capture a moment in time’. To hold and harbour, savouring each morsel…
…and there is space within. Space within glass, space within paint, within layers and scratches, molten marks and skeletal tendrils… space to shelter or hide away, space to float, hover and linger
and boundaries and thresholds, Bachelard’s ‘inside and outside’ (and the repetitions of ‘this side’ and ‘beyond’)[iii], a surface (above and below), lines drawn, layers peeled, containers emptied…
clouds-floating-feathers, burnt leaves lifting gently pulling at burnt burrs like a scab, a landscape half-remembered, and words that seep like water through the cracks and fissures. ‘I remember’.
On visibility… The light catches a burred edge, curled and gently peeling back upon itself like a chrysalis ready to hatch. Molten lines remember a leaf, now pressed between the pages of a book. Moving in and out of visibility, shadows reveal scarred and sculptured surfaces… Shifting between absence and presence, from one moment to the next, resisting capture, refuting reproduction, hovering between visibility and the invisible…. are they there?
…a reflection of reflections. The trees are waving at their shadows before disappearing out of view. Obscured by acid they float in milky puddles, splintered into a thousand traces beneath the surface… Landscapes emerge from papery beginnings; cross-hatched, annotated and torn to view. Miniature ‘skips become redundant, enfolded within other memories as translucent layers build in obscurity. A painting is found and then lost. The landscape within never existed, except when it once did. The smoothen surface soothes whispering ‘I remember’…
On liminality… And a veil falls like silence, trapping a cloud within its wake.
Somewhere between lost and found… a hole is torn in the sky where the rain falls-in, dancing with sunlight that casts a silvered glow. Light falls between the layers, trapped between two worlds, between surface and the memory of surface, and the memory of a photograph within which at least a fragment of this sky once lived. Like twilight the sky hangs, hovers and falters – in between space – in a space between, held in a glassy hand, miniaturized and hermetically sealed, the latch has dissolved…
Elsewhere a leaf floats out of frame, spilling over, jostling for space, forgetting its manners to rest and nestle at the edge… It is only a memory… someone else’s memory sent across continents to rest-pressed within the pages of a book… someone else’s memories of stifling heat and sun-buried days.
A book of memories, a space between, times and places that don’t belong to its owner, captured… and far-off a window opens, a breeze beckons tugging at the edges, lifting gently at the frayed paint.
On collecting… an empty hollow still exists within her pocket, a stony memory, hot- hand, clenched-fist, precious treasures. Beyond (years later) lies a feather. Marked with dappled spots and tiger stripes, wavering and calligraphic like the grey-black wash of a Japanese ink drawing. Treasure that belongs to something bigger; a wing, a bird, a branch, a tree, remnants, ruins, little castles…so that she can remember.
On memory…memories are souvenirs, moments in time, an empty acorn shell lodged within the crevices of a well-worn coat. A leaf sent across seas and years, passed from hand-to-hand, a photograph of a path through pines lined with beaten bracken and the creaking carpet of a forest-floor trampled underfoot. A cloud hovering on a blue-sky day, a candy-floss container of wispy edges and tails…
Memories are landscapes that never really existed, a bricolage of imaginings… Memories are threads melted into paint to trace the outlines of a twig, so easily unraveled, or the ghostly arms of a waving tree caught both upon and within and beyond the surface, or glimpsed through a windowpane…
Memories are brittle, dried leaves ready to disintegrate
Memories are stories and full stops, vessels of permanence that dip and dive above and below the surface. They are solid as a board or a pane of glass, painted, etched, then washed away with layers that dissolve and obscure. They are traces, auras, shadows and reflections, resisting capture, ‘memory-images’[iv] scooping up each line and landscape – impossible to photograph – an impermanent resistance.
They are clouds, leaves and trees, they are the spaces between (beneath and beyond), they are surface (for ‘everything is surface’).
‘I remember’. ‘I remember’. ‘I remember.’
[i] From ‘Funes the Memorious’, Jorge Luis Borges quoted in ‘The Infinite Line’, Bryony Ferr in Memory, Ed. Ian Farr (London: Whitechapel Gallery and MIT Press, 2012)
[ii] John Ashberry, ‘Self Portrait in a Convex Mirror’, 1974
[iii] Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space, Trans. Maria Jolas (Boston: Beacon Press, 1994, first ed. France 1958)
[iv] Siegfried Kracauer, ‘Memory Images’ in Memory, Ed. Ian Farr (London: Whitechapel Gallery and MIT Press, 2012)