‘The Illuminating Gas [...] systematically imposes a formless anxiety, diverging yet centrifugal, directed not toward the most withheld secrets but toward the imitation and the transmutation of the most visible forms: each word at the same time energised and drained, filled and emptied by the possibility of there being yet another meaning, this one or that one, or neither one nor the other, but a third, or none...’ Michel Foucault
White Cube Bermondsey is pleased to present an exhibition of new works by Cerith Wyn Evans. Wyn Evans’ works exist and take form through the reflection on and interrogation of the world about us, adopting what Martin Prinzhorn has identified as strategies of ‘superimposition and contradiction, by concealing and revealing’, to create moments of rupture within existing structures of communication whether visual, audio or conceptual. For this exhibition, he has focused on ideas around the flows of energy via material and immaterial conduits, circuitry and choreology – the practice of translating movement into notational form. Working with the architecture of South Gallery II, Wyn Evans has produced a group of sculptures that question our notions of reality and cognition, perception and subjectivity, forming an exhibition as experiment, with recourse to scores, maps, intervals and diagrams.
Three neon works which are suspended from the ceiling take their form from the codified and precise movements of Japanese Noh theatre (Neon forms [after Noh I, II and III], all 2015). Relating closely to the artist’s earlier sculptures which translated diagrammatic flight paths into neon, these new works present a maze of complex lines that trace the trajectory of alignments, gestures, folds, orientations and footsteps; transposing and transforming energies into both material charge and visual form.
In another new neon work, the artist draws inspiration from the mysterious tripartite radial forms of the ‘Oculist Witnesses’ that appear in Marcel Duchamp’s work The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (1915–23). Three vast discs in bright white neon recreate the forms of Duchamp’s original into ‘perversely’ three dimensional and multi-dimensional objects. Suspended from the ceiling at a skewed angle and imposing a foreshortened perspective, The Illuminating Gas…(after Oculist Witnesses), 2015, stages the exploration of established and establishing spatio-temporal regimes, creating a break in the surrounding visual field. The forms fold and mesh different figure/ground sensibilities into each other, thereby evoking hitherto unforeseen registers of perception.
Interspersed among the neon sculptures are plants placed on turntables that almost imperceptibly rotate at different velocities in different directions, their antithetical movement conjures an otherworldly presence with intimations of the occult. The notion of an otherworldly voice is continued with a large sound sculpture consisting of 19 ‘breathing’ transparent glass flutes. Each flute is connected to a long tube which is suspended from the ceiling and together they form two ellipses, staggered at different heights, creating radial fan-like arcs in space, again echoing The Illuminating Gas…(after Oculist Witnesses). Mechanically operated, the flutes emit a mellifluous breath-like sound; an expansive microtonal resonance that reverberates through the exhibition.
In the corridor space closely adjoining the entrance to the exhibition, Wyn Evans has reconfigured an existing ceiling light fixture to render in morse code a text outlining a narrative describing the transit of the moon creating a solar eclipse; a narrative in which language takes light for a walk.