Emma Critchley, film still from Need for Touch, 2014 and Nadège Mériau, Day after Day, Installation, 2014
Emma Critchley & Nadège Mériau inhabit the subterranean space of the Regency Town House
Exhibition dates: 3 – 19 October 2014
Opening times: Friday – Sunday 12 – 6pm
The Regency Town House basement, Brighton & Hove, BN3 1EH
Contact for exhibition: 07813 190912
‘The world is reflected in the body, and the body is projected onto the world’
This simple line comes from Eyes of the Skin: Architecture and the Senses , by Juhani Pallasmaa, a writer that artists Nadège Mériau and Emma Critchley have studied and discussed, first as photography students at the Royal College of Art and more recently in the galvanising of Minutes Passing Slowly. Working here in starkly different media both artists investigate the relationship between space and body, and how the one is conditioned by the other.
The Regency Town House Basement is an extraordinarily evocative and pertinent place to site this exhibition. It offers the opportunity of both physical and psychological immersion and locates the timeless nature of the subject matter within its walls, adding another layer to its own particular history.
Emma Critchley’s underwater film work explores human experience, often in states of suspension and stillness. This stasis is unnerving, with its bare boned allusions to the eternal circle of life and death. In her video works a gentle ripple of the water or a bursting bubble relieves the tension, gentle breath echoing in the space. For Minutes Passing Slowly Critchley has developed a new site-specific installation piece, made in collaboration with sound artist zitrone that deliberately plays against the existing interior of the former servants dining room. An alcove extends an empty yet domestic space into an underwater world. Weaving through the space are resonant frequencies of the room itself in the form of sine waves; the interior and body merging simultaneously above and below ground. A new video work also created for the exhibition, Need for Touch investigates the growing hegemony of vision and its relationship with the rest of the senses.
Moving through the passageway, light filters in from an inner courtyard and we arrive at the heart of the house, the kitchen, where Nadège Mériau’s installation, made specifically for this exhibition, confronts us. A wave of rolling, tumbling bread spews from the hearth, encroaching onto the once immaculate floor. Hard, solid loaves brick up an internal wall mirroring the bare brickwork of the walls and languid, pendulous forms, heavy with flour, hang flaccid from hooks and sills. This is bread-making in all its dirty, glorious reality. Heavy with yeast and fat, nurturing and enveloping it exudes its own creative histories. Mériau’s work has long been rooted in Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy that the body is the ‘primary site for knowing the world’. Her appropriation of bread making as a medium, both to an end and of an end itself, reflects the physicality of the process of creation and also her own place in the world. She says “It is a weekly ritual through which we inhabit our body, our community, our home and our cultural environment” – it becomes for Mériau the very rope by which she is attached to the world. From the slippery touch of wet dough to the architectural form of a baked loaf all senses are engaged.
Minutes Passing Slowly presents new installation and film works by the London and Brighton based artists, both fascinated by the phenomenological, the investigation of experience. Whilst the references are universal the practices of both artists convey specific personal relationships with their environment.
The exhibition is supported by A Woman’s Place, a project curated by Day + Gluckman, that aims to question and address the contemporary position of women in our creative, historical and cultural landscape. It is inspired by an urgent desire to relocate the simple message of female equality into the cultural fabric of today. Using historically significant venues, commissions and works explores the contemporary position of women in our creative, historical and cultural landscape.
The exhibition is part of the Brighton Photo Fringe 2014
With grateful thanks to our sponsors: Locate Productions, Richer Sounds, Brighton & Budgens, East Finchley without whose support this exhibition would not have been possible.