Cerith Wyn Evans
9 May - 5 July 2009
Inverleith House was delighted to present the first solo exhibition in Scotland by the internationally acclaimed artist Cerith Wyn Evans. Works from 2006 were accompanied by several new works being shown for the first time; ‘Dear Lucifer' (realised using plants from the Garden's collection) and the world premiere of a new work; ‘A Film (I've been fooled by love)', which was the first film Wyn Evans has made in 25 years.
Cerith Wyn Evans graduated from the Royal College of Art in 1984 and began his career as a video and filmmaker, initially assisting Derek Jarman, and then making short, experimental films during the 1980s, working with the dancer and choreographer Michael Clarke and Leigh Bowery. His expansive knowledge of Literature, Music, Philosophy and Photography is used to drive his creation of works whose outward beauty and elegance contain an inner, often radical, content. Since the 1990s, his work could be characterised by its focus on language and perception, as well as its precise, conceptual clarity that is developed out of the context of the exhibition site or its history.
In recent years he has become perhaps best known for text works in which chandeliers are illuminated by texts rendered in Morse code. These texts represent a personal canon of literature and include letters, poems, philosophical extracts and short stories by writers ranging from Theodor Adorno, William Blake and Judith Butler to Brion Gysin, James Merrill and The Marquis De Sade.
The first work in the exhibition consisted of a Murano glass chandelier (made by hand in Venice) illuminated by pulses of light generated from a text describing the properties of photographic emulsion used in recording astronomical observations - from a 1987 scientific publication ‘Astro-photography Stages of Photographic Development' by Siegfried Marx. This text was rendered in Morse code by a hidden computer and displayed on a monitor, whilst also illuminating the chandelier with bursts of light. The text concerned research related to the advent of Astrophotography, when it was discovered that microscopic inconsistencies produced by dust for example, within the photographic emulsion, had led to the erroneous recording (and even naming) of stars and galaxies. Moving into room two, a flat, unidirectional audio speaker transmitted recordings of signals from radio telescopes in different locations across the world. Observing events billions of light years away, these telescopes were capable of recording the Universe in its early stages of formation, before the formation of our own planet. Occasionally, the whooshing sound of passing meteorites or comets could be heard.
Time and space were also directly referenced in the third room, which contained two fragments of wall from the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London (ICA): Wyn Evans' 2006 exhibition ‘Take My Eyes and Through Them See You' reflected his intensely personal relationship to the institution and its architecture. Taking inspiration from Marcel Broodthaers' last exhibition (Décor), held there in 1975, which Wyn Evans visited as a teenager, he created works that variously exposed and obscured the views within and beyond the gallery spaces. Here, fragments of those walls which were used to display works by great artists, from Broodthaers to Dali were hung on the walls of Inverleith House, with its own history. In room four, Wyn Evans exhibited a new work ‘Dear Lucifer' which incorporated plants from the Garden's living collection: he previously made a work ‘Future Anterior' (1994) in which two flowering orchids in pots stood on white plinths (in Kitaky?sh?, Fukuoka prefecture in South-West Japan). Here the physical presence of the specimens on display was in contrast to the fragmented view of the room in the plinths below; the tallest remaining empty - its title referring to the fallen angel, Lucifer.
Downstairs in the lower ground floor (access via the lift), was the first public screening of a short film made recently by Wyn Evans in which the manipulation of a colour film bought in Japan (edited according to compositional principles of reflection and repetition outlined by Arnold Schoenberg) is emphatically out of synch with the pace and rhythm of its soundtrack by the American R&B singer Geno Washington.
All works courtesy the Artist, Jay Jopling/White Cube, London and Daniel Buchholz, Cologne.
Photographs: Ruth Clark.
Work by Cerith Wyn Evans can also be seen at Tramway, Glasgow from 7 August where A=P=P=A=R=I=T=I=O=N will be showing until 27 September.