Installation view of Transparent Things, Goldsmiths CCA, 2020. Photo: Mark Blower.
Installation view of Transparent Things, Goldsmiths CCA, 2020. Photo: Mark Blower
Carlotta Bailly-Borg, Mammals 1, 2019. Courtesy the artist
Michael Dean, Focusing on the floor from the rain, 2019
Artists: Nairy Baghramian, Carlotta Bailly-Borg, Becky Beasley, Gareth Cadwallader, Nina Canell, Michael Dean, Theaster Gates, David Hammons, Marie Lund, Vladimir Nabokov, Virginia Overton, Lucy Skaer, Renee So, Kerry Tribe.
Transparent Things uses Chapter 1 of Vladimir Nabokov’s novel as a script. In this brief text objects exert uncanny agency, pulling us back anecdotally and materially into their past, and catalysing radical perceptual shifts, lending itself to an exploration of contemporary sculpture. Artists have been invited to contribute works as co-readers of the text, with new works by Nairy Baghramian, Michael Dean, Marie Lund, Virginia Overton, and Renee So.
Through the prism of Nabokov, the exhibition cues contemporary philosophical interest in object agency, and the power of fiction. Included are art objects that operate through various imaginaries, relating material, social and personal histories where the past erupts into the present. Works acknowledge time, either unfolding over the span of the exhibition, or indexing its passing. Further, in response to Nabokov’s ‘transparent things’ as having the power to seduce and hold our attention, some objects appear anthropomorphised, demanding to be read as bodies in relation to our own.
Alongside being a novelist and poet, Nabokov was also an accomplished natural historian and entomologist (studying butterflies). Reproductions of a sample of his many studies of butterflies are included in the exhibition. The pattern of wings was a subject of special study and can be read as the model for his mode of fiction making, which deploys repeated motifs and images. The exhibition itself thus works through repeated forms and artworks across the building, following visual logics and shared affinities.
The figure of transparency is exploited for its particular resonance within the art field. Transparency implies legibility, but objects can withhold themselves and their histories, frustrating interpretation, or absenting themselves from the frame. Some trouble the skin or surface of artworks’ as carriers of meaning, others demarcate the limits of perception.
In reflection of the exhibition situating itself in the interstice of fiction, art and exhibition making, writers have been commissioned to respond to the text and art works. The publication includes contributions by writers Rosie Haward, Jesper List Thomsen, and Kashif Sharma-Patel.
Danish Arts Foundation
Plan B Cluj, Berlin
Nairy Baghramian (b. 1971, Iran) has lived and worked in Berlin since 1984. Recent solo shows have been exhibited at MUDAM, Luxembourg City, 2019; Palacio de Cristal, Madrid, 2018; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, 2017; Statens Museum for Kunst, National Gallery of Denmark, Copenhagen, 2017; Museum of Contemporary Art, Ghent, 2016; Museum Haus Konstruktiv, Zürich, 2016; Museo Tamayo, Mexico City, 2015; Serralves Museum, Porto, 2014; MIT Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2013; Kunsthalle Mannheim, Mannheim, 2012; The Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver, 2012 and Serpentine Gallery, London, 2010. Baghramian has been the recipient of the Zurich Art Prize, 2016; the Arnold-Bode Prize, 2014; the Hector Prize, Kunsthalle Mannheim, 2012 and the Ernst Schering Foundation Award, 2007. She has participated in the Venice Biennale in 2019 and 2011; the Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art in 2012; the 8th and 5th Berlin Biennale in 2014 and 2008; and the Skulptur Projekt Munster in 2017 and 2007.
Carlotta Bailly-Borg (b. 1984, France), lives and works in Brussels. She graduated at the École Nationale Supérieure d’Arts de Cergy in 2010 and was an artist-in-resident in Le Pavillon, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, 2013. She presented her work at Palais de Tokyo, Paris, 2019; Island, Brussels, 2019; Fondation d’entreprise Ricard, Paris, 2019; Tunnel Tunnel, Lausanne, 2019; Galerie Sultana, Paris, 2018; Baltic Triennial 13, South London Gallery, London, 2018; Kunstihoone, Tallinn, 2018; Studio Amaro, Napoli, 2017; Attic, Brusselles, 2017; Feeelings, Brussels, 2017; CNEAI, Chatou, 2017; Karma International, Los Angeles, 2016; Espace II of Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris, 2015; Onomatopée, Eindhoven; 2015; Palais de Tokyo, Paris, 2013 and Galerie Abilene, Brussels, 2012.
Becky Beasley (b. 1975, United Kingdom) lives and works in St. Leonards-on-Sea. She holds a BA from Goldsmiths, University of London and an MA from the Royal College of Art, London. Beasley is represented by Laura Bartlett Gallery, London and Galeria Plan B, Cluj Berlin. She has been exhibited in galleries and museums including: Plan B Gallery, Berlin; 80WSE Gallery, New York; Towner Gallery, Eastbourne; SKUC Public Gallery, Ljubljana; South London Gallery, London; Leeds City Gallery, Leeds; Spike Island, Bristol; Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, London; Tate Britain, London; Laura Bartlett Gallery, London; Stanley Picker Gallery, London; Whitworth, Manchester; Bluecoat, Liverpool; Hippocrene Foundation, Paris; Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool; Jerwood Gallery, Hastings; Whitechapel Gallery, London; Kunstverein Munich, Munich; Kunsthalle Bern, Switzerland.
Gareth Cadwallader (b. 1979, United Kingdom) lives and works in London. He holds a BA from Slade School of Fine Art and an MA from Royal College of Art, London and is represented by Josh Lilley, London. He has been exhibited in galleries and museums including: Josh Lilley, London; Saatchi Gallery, London; Hannah Barry, London; Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool and The Phoenix, Exeter.
Nina Canell (b. 1979, Sweden) lives and works in Berlin. Her recent solo exhibitions include Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Ghent, 2018; The Artist’s Institute, New York, 2017; Museo Tamayo, Mexico City, 2017; Arko Art Center, Seoul, 2016; Moderna Museet, Stockholm, 2014; Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin, 2013. Her group exhibitions include: the Venice, Sydney, Lyon, and Liverpool biennials; exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Palais de Tokyo, Paris, Witte de With, Rotterdam; Institute of Contemporary Art, London, and the Kunsthalle Fridericianum, Kassel, among others.
Michael Dean (b. 1977, United Kingdom) lives and works in London. Dean’s work begins with his own writing, abstracting text into sculptures and immersive installations that explore language, the body, and intimacy. Recent solo exhibitions include: Tu texto aquí, Museo Rufino Tamayo, Mexico City; Michael Dean: Laughing for Crying, St Carthage Hall, Lismore Castle Arts, Lismore; Contemporary Sculpture: Sam Anderson & Michael Dean, Boca Raton Museum of Art, Florida; Having you on, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead; Teaxths and Angeruage, Portikus, Frankfurt, 2017; Sic Glyphs, South London Gallery, London, 2016 and Lost True Leaves, Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, 2016. In 2017, Dean participated in Skulptur Projekt Münster, and in 2016 was nominated for the Turner Prize.
Theaster Gates (b. 1973, United States) lives and works in Chicago. He has exhibited widely including solo exhibitions at Kunstmuseum Basel, Basel, 2018; Sprengel Museum, Hannover, 2018; National Gallery of Art, Washington, 2017; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, 2016; Fondazione Prada, Milan, 2016; Kunsthaus Bregenz, Bregenz, 2016; Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Chicago, 2013; Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, 2011; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, 2011; Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, 2010; and St. Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, 2010. He has participated in numerous group exhibitions including the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 2017; 14th Istanbul Biennial, Istanbul, 2015; 56th Venice Biennale, Venice, 2015; Prospect 3, New Orleans, 2014; Documenta 13, Kassel, 2012; and Whitney Biennial, New York, 2010. Gates is the recipient of the Nasher Sculpture Prize in 2018, the Sprengel Museum Kurt Schwitters Prize in 2017, and the Artes Mundi 6 prize in 2015, and was appointed the first distinguished visiting artist and Director of Artist Initiatives at the Lunder Institute for American Art, Colby College, Waterville in 2018.
Marie Lund (b. 1976, Denmark) lives and works in Copenhagen. She holds a BA from The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Schools of Architecture, Copenhagen and an MA from The Royal College of Art, London. She is currently represented by Laura Barlett Gallery, London; Croy Nielson, Vienna and José García, Mexico City. She has shown at galleries, museums and biennales including: Holstebro Kunstmuseum, Holstebro; Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe; Croy Nielson, Vienna; Laura Barlett Gallery, London; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; José García, Mexico City; Museo Marino Marini, Florence; Kunstpalast Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf; National Gallery of Modern Art, Rome; Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turino; South London Gallery, London; Extra City Kunsthal, Antwerp; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Museum Krefeld, Krefeld; Sorø Kunstmuseum, Sorø; Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, Detroit; NOMAS Foundation, Rome; CCA Wattis, Los Angeles; David Roberts Art Foundation, London; Tate Modern, London.
Virginia Overton (b. 1971, United States) lives and works in Brooklyn. She holds a BFA and MFA in Fine Art from The University of Memphis and is represented by White Cube. She has been exhibited in galleries and museums including: Socrates Sculpture Park, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art Tucson, Tucson; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield; Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami; Westfälischer Kunstverein, Münster; Kunsthalle Bern, Switzerland; The Power Station, Dallas; The Power House, Memphis; Front Triennial, Cleveland; Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit; Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia.
Lucy Skaer (b. 1975, United Kingdom) currently lives and works in Glasgow. She holds a BA in Fine Art from the Environmental Art Department, Glasgow School of Art, Glasgow and is represented by Grimm Gallery, Amsterdam and Peter Freeman Gallery, New York. Skaer’s recent solo exhibitions include The Green Man, Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh, 2018; KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin, 2018; One Remove, Witte de With, Rotterdam, 2016; Sticks & Stones, Murray Guy, New York, 2015; Random House, Peter Freeman, New York, 2015; Sticks & Stones, Musées Gallo-Romains, Lyon, 2015; Monday 8.4.13…Monday 22.4.13, Yale Union, Portland, 2013; Exit, Voice and Loyalty, Tramway, Glasgow, 2013; Force Justify, CAB Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Caja de Burgos, Burgos, 2013; Lucy Skaer, Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna, 2012; and Scene, Hold, Ballast, Sculpture Center, New York, 2012. Recent group exhibitions include Incorporated!, Rennes Biennale, Rennes, 2016; The Secret Life of Images, Kunstverein Freiburg, 2016; Whatever moves between us also moves the world in general, Murray Guy, New York, 2016; The Registry of Promise, De Vleeshal, Middelburg, 2015; Wintermute, GRIMM Gallery, Amsterdam, 2015; Art Under Attack – Histories of British Iconoclasm, Tate Britain, London, 2013; Suicide Narcissus, The Renaissance Society, Chicago, 2013; the 9th Biennial do Mercosul, Porto Alegre, 2013, and Spies in the House of Art: Photography, Film and Video, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2012. In 2009, Skaer was shortlisted for the Turner Prize, and in 2007, she represented Scotland at the 52nd Venice Biennale.
Renee So (b. 1974, Hong Kong) lives and works in London. She holds a BA in Fine Art from The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Melbourne and is represented by Kate MacGarry, London and Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney. She has been exhibited in galleries and museums including: De La Warr Pavilion, Sussex; Henry Moore Institute, Leeds; Whitechapel Gallery, London; Fremantle Arts Centre, Fremantle; Saatchi Gallery, London; Kate MacGarry, London; Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney; ParaSite, Hong Kong; Leeds Art Gallery, Leeds; The Glasgow School of Art, Glasgow; Studio Voltaire, London.
Kerry Tribe (b. 1973, United States) is an artist and filmmaker based in Los Angeles. Her work has been the subject of solo presentations at SFMOMA, San Francisco; The High Line, New York; Carpenter Center for Visual Arts, Cambridge; The Power Plant, Toronto; Modern Art Oxford and Camden Arts Centre, London. Tribe was the recipient of the Presidential Residency at Stanford University, the Herb Alpert Award, the USA Artists Award, and she was the Guna S. Mundheim Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin. Tribe’s work is in the public collections of Museum of Modern Art and Whitney Museum of Modern Art, New York; Hammer Museum and Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles; Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Ghent and the Generali Foundation, Vienna, among other institutions. She has served as visiting faculty at Stanford University, UCLA, CalArts, Harvard University, and regularly teaches at ArtCenter in Pasadena. Tribe received her MFA from UCLA, attended the Whitney Independent Study Program, and received an AB from Brown University, where she worked closely with Tony Cokes.