'Solskifte' exhibition has now ended.
This is an archive version of the exhibition.
Read about the ideas behind the exhibition below.
View a video recording of the virtual tour of the exhibition here.
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An exhibition by Edith Dormandy, Maxim Sinclair and Flo Lines, curated by Katrina Man, exploring the interrelations between human power structures and the ‘natural’ world.
Solskifte is a Viking system of land tenure whereby land is divided between people according to where the sun falls, so no one is left with a stretch of land which is always in shade while someone else has light all day. It translates as ‘sun division’. This seemed an appropriate title for the show because we are all exploring the ways in which human political structures respond to and integrate with pre-existing structures of the ‘natural’ world. It also seemed appropriate for a show including lots of paintings and photographs, to have a title referring to the division of light and shade, which is what those art forms essentially do.
By Edith Dormandy
A copy of The Observer’s Book of Trees (1937, revised 1960) emerged from a recent clear-out of my grandparents’ home, and struck me as a poignant evocation of a generational difference in thinking. In it, nature appears categorizable and knowable. It is interpreted authoritatively within human structures. The Oak is ‘the patriarch of the forest’, the Ash ‘the Venus of the Woods’. In our current era of mass extinction and ecological crisis, we mourn the replacement of familiarity with nature by alienation, often linked to urbanization and digitization. But the book also presents an attitude of mastery over nature which is a major contributor to the problem.
This project seeks to examine our relationship to a generation whose conviction left a complex legacy, in terms of ecology, patriarchy and colonialism amongst other things, but who are also much loved and nurturing family members. Through this project I seek to celebrate them, mourn their passing, examine their legacy, and look to a future without them.
There are different interwoven projects within this exhibition.
The bones are painted from a human skeleton which my grandmother bought (when that was legal) for medical reference. Images of bones obviously evoke death, but their forms are determined by their function to support life. I tried to keep this tension in mind when painting them.
The moths were painted when I was very depressed. I had struggled to get out of bed for hours, and finally managed to haul my body upright and downstairs to my desk where I found a dead moth that my mother had put there because she knows me well and thought I might want to paint it. I painted it 20 times. Barely there, fragile, inert, like I felt.
The paintings of me as a baby, with my parents, of my mother in the bath, and of my grandmother with a paramedic came out of a wish to delve into the intimate knowledge that family members have of each other’s bodies. There are also a couple of paintings which are an attempt to comprehend the collision of those intimate family relationships with wider political power structures. The found objects extend this investigation.
The exhibition was initially conceived for the funeral chapel in Brompton Cemetery, a setting constructed for and by nature and mourning. Then, appropriately for a show partially about loss, it was cancelled. I began to conceive an online exhibition, and to organise collaborations.
The digital space has afforded many opportunities as well as restrictions, which Katrina Man the curator has written more about in her catalogue essay.
It allowed me to conceive the digital space as forest. That is to say, as space where exploration and spatial story telling can happen, as well as disorientation and queering of preconceptions. Being forced into working in the digital sphere allowed me to interrogate my own prejudice about it as the opposite of ‘the natural world’, whatever that is. We know now that trees are not individuals, but part of interrelated systems, incorporating mycorrhizal fungi, other plants and animals in communicative, symbiotic woodland networks. Like trees, humans are not individuals, as the capitalist lie would have us believe, but permeable entities within overlapping networks, which are neither natural, nor human because they are both.
This thought process was crystalized by working on the digital show, and made me realize that my initial grouping of urbanization and digitization with alienation was false, and that the digital and the urban can be pathways to decreasing alienation from nature.
By Maxim Sinclair
The photos in this series explore my relationship, as a human, with the ‘natural’ world around me, and the difficulty of cultivating a more ecocentric attitude when inhabiting a capitalist urban space constructed to be alienated from the ecosystem. Through this project I looked to explore this relationship and question the false boundaries between humans and nature finding the beauty and discomforts in their interactions.
The images were made using a half frame film camera as the immediacy and physicality of the interaction between light and film re-enacts that of my relationship with my environment. All of the double and triple exposures were created in the camera. To achieve this, I had to relinquish a certain level of control; chance played an important role in capturing the combination of images. In this way I attempted to counter the perceived authority of photography as a taxonomical tool to document and subjugate nature.
By Flo Lines
Invited to contribute to Solskifte, I was interested to consider the intimacies and textures of the everyday. Within these reflections of the ordinary and habitual exist varying themes of intimacy, embodiment and interconnection, notions which invite us to consider the structured rhythms and intensities of life in a metropolis. The present moment has been a particularly poignant opportunity for me to reflect on human structures and relationships with the ‘natural’ world, as the spread of a virus illustrates the corporeal intimacy of things; we are and have always been multispecies beings. The unsettling of prevailing logics around nature and society is its own slow and unruly process, handed to us through complex legacies of power and domination and which requires a reimaging of distinct concepts and structures. We must admit the world is a far messier and interdependent place than our language allows for.
As a part of this exhibition, I have been reflecting on the properties of sound itself; ruminating on the fact that everything in the world exists as a sounding object. For me this is a humbling idea, a fact which reflects that all objects hold the potential to assert some kind of agency in the world. In this sense, sound intersects with our lives, helping us to make sense of place and familiarity, whilst existing and resonating on registers far outside of human perception. More so, in thinking about the properties and transmutations of sound, we can readily experience the ways music so beautifully enacts ecological principles: creation, transformation and entropy. Being invited to work on an online exhibition has been new terrain, enabling me to consider the alienation of online networks whilst touching upon the moments of intimacy that can be generated through these digital encounters. As its own grand and self-organising structure, thinking about the internet ecologically implores us to consider a number of strange realities pertinent to the themes of Solskifte; namely that the nature and origin of the internet as a structure is admittedly no less natural than a subterranean root system beneath a forest. We are all rooted from the same matter.
So, as a digital landscape with a number of pathways and immersive corners to explore, I invite the listener to participate in their own ramblings with each sound piece - starting, stopping and skipping where they wish. The original compositions were inspired by the image they accompany, which I hope add a certain enigmatic touch to the experience of each piece. As a person who now tries to spend much more of their time listening, I have discovered subtle delights in this daily practice of attention (an etymology of delight meaning ‘out from light’ sharing its roots with ‘delicious’, or ‘delectable’). This desire was born from my own feelings of alienation and groundlessness, and I found recording as a means of returning to myself and my surroundings. After 3 years spent experimenting with recording, I have come to firmly believe that an ethics based on listening may dispel some of the delusions of mastery and domination that remain ingrained in our psyches, opening up new pathways of relating to each other and the non-human world.
With special thanks to the lone Robin who lives in the tree above our garden, whose song is featured in a few places in this exhibition. I have been hearing you a lot more recently.
By Katrina Man
For ‘Solskifte’, a digital forest has been created through which viewers are invited to wander, stumbling across paintings, objects, photographs and sounds in their exploring of this online exhibition. Unexpected meandering pathways and interactive digital features allow for works to be discovered through the active traversing of this virtual realm. The viewing experience becomes distinctly embodied. The viewer’s clicking and wandering of the mouse engages the body physically whilst listening to the sounds stimulates another sense. The architecture of the physical exhibition space has been replaced by the architecture of the computer screen, which frames each view of the exhibition. The gallery wall now the webpage is at the behest of the viewer’s scrolling, a fact I’ve been conscious of when curating each page.
The linking or placing of works together generates multiple, evolving associations. The inter-connectedness of the works and pages become a mediation on how we are at once hyper-connected, to one another, the world around us and our past, yet also perhaps more isolated and disorientated than ever. The materiality and presence of the works that is often lost in their slick digital representations is evoked by the videos that show their weightiness as they move in the wind and the whole page depictions that show the textured surface and edges of the paper. There are sounds that harness the physical properties of objects, reminding us of their materiality. Elsewhere the layering and splicing of sounds in sound compositions mimic the superimposing of visual elements in Maxim’s photographs. Where a sound piece is displayed with a single work, sustained viewing is encouraged, allowing the viewer to explore every aspect of the work. Familiar ambient sounds both locate and dislocate the viewer, conjuring up the sense of being in a specific environment and witnessing a certain scene which may not be explicitly represented in the accompanying image. Representing the scale of works was another challenge with this online exhibition. We decided that scale should become fluid and playful, taking advantage of the ability to digitally alter the size of images. The varying scales, combined with the collaging of images, create new meanings and new display possibilities.
We invite viewers to spend time curiously wandering through the various pathways of this virtual forest to discover all there is to experience visually and audibly. We hope your journeys are intriguing and surprising and that no two pathways are the same.
Edith Dormandy, Self Portrait, 2018, charcoal and chalk
Edith is a recent graduate from The London Atelier of Representational Art (LARA), and a less recent graduate in History of Art at UCL. She is available for commissions, and although there is none of her academic painting in this exhibition, it and other projects can be seen on Instagram @edithdormandy. She works as the archivist for the Royal Watercolour Society. Read her blogs, ‘Archive in Focus’, on past RWS members at www.banksidegallery.com/bgfeed.
2020, RWS Contemporary Watercolour Competition, Bankside Gallery, Southwark
2019-2020, ARC 14th Salon, MEAM, Barcelona and Sotheby’s NY
2019, She London with Art for Cure, Bankside Gallery, Southwark
2019, Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours 207th Exhibition, The Mall Galleries
2017, BODS, Safe Houses, Peckham
2016, Ham Sweet Ham, 2 person show, held at home, joint with Jake Lamerton
2020 Royal Watercolour Society Recent Graduate Award
2019 2 x ARC Purchase Awards in the 14th Annual Salon
2018 ARC 1st Prize scholarship https://www.artrenewal.org/Scholarship/Entrant/188
2015 Summer Studentship at the Institute of Making for practical research
Maxim is a greengrocer and artist based in South-East London mainly working in film photography. He has recently completed an MSc in Climate Change science and policy, with his thesis focusing on the use of climate change imagery in media and the effectiveness of different forms of communication. Before that he was a cheesemonger, before that he studied physics and before that he was a child.
Flo is a musician and recent graduate of a master’s program studying in Human Geography: Society and Space at Bristol University. Before then she studied an undergraduate degree in Anthropology at UCL. Her academic interests include new materialist philosophy and studying human relationships to the non-human world. She wrote her master’s thesis on the aesthetics of sound art in the Anthropocene, exploring the spectral relationship between sound and extinction. In her spare time she writes music and spends a lot of time recording things. Many of the field recordings included in this exhibition span the UK, Australia, South America and Cuba. She has a monthly radio show called Ordinary Intensities exploring the sounds and intimacies of everyday experience.
Katrina is pursuing a career in the contemporary art world and is currently an independent curator. She has a background in History of Art, having studied her BA at UCL in London and completed a History of Art (Modern and Contemporary Art) MA at the University of York. Over the past few years, she has been gaining a range of art world experience, through commercial art gallery, museum and public art programme work, as well as self-organised exhibitions and art projects. In her research and her work, Katrina has been specialising in contemporary art with a particular interest in practices that engage with technology. She wants to make more art more accessible to a wider public and to support emerging artists throughout her career.