Still Believing

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MONOMATIC is pleased to present Still Believing an exhibition of new works by Tim Dodds and Thomas Whittle.

Still Believing brings together still life paintings and photographs made from studio set ups; set ups that the artists themselves create. These objects, collages and arrangements are all modeled and fabricated by the artists using debris from their studio and other works. The relationship of translating these table-top dioramas into two dimensional images posts questions of truth, authenticity, specificity and miscommunication. By presenting the viewer with a contradictory infinity loop, the work sincerely hopes to challenge perception of space, time and subjectivity.

To coincide with the opening Sian Robinson Davies has been invited to read her new text All the People I’ve Touched. This text is about the (in)frequency of physical contact that Robinson Davies has with those around her and how that contact produces different feelings depending on social context, quality of relationship, permission and intention.

MONOMATIC presents Still Believing as part of Annuale, an annual festival organised by Embassy Gallery.

Edinburgh Beer Factory will provide refreshments at the opening.

Exhibition text by Jonathan P Watts: Still Believing

Studio

Immobile in regimented seats, train passengers pass through remote
landscapes. As such, they’re only offered, the anthropologist Michel
de Certeau writes, ‘a speculative experience of the world’, remaining
‘outside of these things that stay there, detached and absolute, that
leave us without having anything to do with this departure’. Seeking
a visual symbol of the train’s relation to knowledge, de Certeau
claims that it ‘generalizes’ the German Renaissance artist Albrecht
Dürer’s engraving Melencolia I (1514). Slumped to the right of this
masterprint, fatigued like some latter-day passenger, the solitary
figure ‘Melancolia’ is absorbed in thought. The tools of her art – a
peculiar array of objects – surround her but she seems unable to use
them. Even the emaciated dog at her feet conveys a melancholy
atmosphere. Does her withdrawal make it impossible for her to act,
or what if she is, in fact, held in some inspired trance prior to action?
In front of immobile things, how does our view affect our knowledge?

Table

A table anatomised begins to look familiar: there are feet, legs and
joints in the places you might expect. And of course tables do have
brains. Or at least it’s hard to shake the thought after Karl Marx’s
early writings on what he called the ‘metaphysical subtleties and
theological niceties’ of the commodity. In The Fetishism of
Commodities and the Secret Thereof (1867) Marx conjures a
beguiling image of a table to illustrate why values attach to
commodities independent of their use-value or the labour entailed
in making them. ‘It is as clear as day,’ he writes, ‘that man, by his
industry, changes the forms of the materials furnished by Nature, in
such a way as to make them useful to him.’ The form of wood, he
continues:
is altered, by making a table out of it. Yet, for all that, the table
continues to be that common, every-day thing, wood. But, so soon as it
steps forth as a commodity, it is changed into something transcendent.
It not only stands with its feet on the ground, but, in relation to all other
commodities, it stands on its head, and evolves out of its wooden brain
grotesque ideas, far more wonderful than ‘table-turning’ ever was.
Marx’s open secret is that commodity transformation is more
wonderful – yet, importantly, more real – than any ‘table-turning’,
that occult practice in which a group gather around a table, their
hands flat on its top, and wait for communiqués from the spiritual
beyond, expressed by the table’s rotation. Indeed, while the
table-turners are all preoccupied with the other side, he implies,
they’re being distracted from doing the real work of understanding
the mystifications that beset commonplace human relations. Marx’s
writing on the commodity turned the table into a paradigmatic item
of furniture caught between an older order of magical thinking and
the modern commodity in industrial capitalism – its top, then, a
highly charged space for display.

Window

The window is a transparent framed view of the world; the mirror is
a rebounding mimetic opacity. With nihilistic élan, Marcel Duchamp
enfolded the two foundational devices for perspectival painting – the
window and the mirror – to produce Fresh Widow (1921), a miniature
French window with all of its eight glass panes blinded by swatches
of black leather. These swatches, Duchamp instructed, were to be
‘shined everyday like shoes’. If this hybrid object negated the
function or use of its constituent parts, it would also forever
complicate art’s relation to knowledge, of the external world and the
self, resolutely closing the French door on illusion. (I can hear
Duchamp’s wicked laughter at the metaphysical labour of polishing
dim lustrous skin to find one’s image.)

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