CURATED BY HELEN JOHNSON
OPENING WEDNESDAY 8 OCTOBER 6 – 8PM
EXHIBITION 8 OCTOBER – 1 NOVEMBER 2014
Whatever we do, we are supposed to do for the sake of “making a living”; such is the verdict of society, and the number of people, especially in the professions who might challenge it, has decreased rapidly. The only exception society is willing to grant is the artist, who, strictly speaking, is the only “worker” left in a laboring society.
- Hannah Arendt, 1958
How rapidly Arendt’s vision of the artist as an exception in a society of labourers has dwindled, its bearings lost as art takes its place in the new economy of ‘creativity, spontaneity, authenticity, self-expression and a cult of personality.’ The business side of art and the paradigm of individualism lean into one another.
Held in a space that formerly housed Citro Motors, a car garage for European imports, and currently operates as a gallery during its transition to a complex of lifestyle apartments, this exhibition arises from an interest in Arendt’s concept of the work of art as a mode that exists at a remove from daily existence, yet contributes to the provision of ‘an “artificial” world of things.’ Work as distinct from labour and action. Work that helps us to think.
Each artist has been asked to produce a painting 18 x 14 inches in size, in portrait orientation, and has determined the content and materiality of her or his own work within these parameters; the works, in turn, can be thought of as material records of work undertaken. The work performed to produce the work.
Annexed onto the space of Slopes—or if I were not an artist I might say ‘the space onto which Slopes is annexed’—is a display room from which property developers sell apartments off the plan, apartments that will ultimately displace the gallery. In the display room there are also paintings hanging. So on the other side of the wall painting is in a cosy proximity to commercial development. Perpendicular to this, here is painting thinking of itself as work, not claiming immunity but simply open, not seeking to solve or absolve itself. I think about this in relation to R. H. Quaytman’s idea of one painting having to be a good neighbor to the next: not as an organising principle, as it is for Aby Warburg, but as a mutual recognition, an equality. The hang is formally consistent to avoid privileging one work over another, becoming an even spread of compositions between which visual conversations can occur. This group of paintings is a group of thoughts, contained in spaces that are also traces of work. Individually produced but with a common form and a common situation.
 Hannah Arendt – The Human Condition, Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1998, p. 127.
 Martin Saar – Introduction to ‘New spirit of criticism? The biopolitical turn in perspective’ in Texte zur Kunst, Issue 81, 2010, p. 132.
 Arendt, 1998, p. 7.