‘Along A Long So Long’ brings together for the first time live and physical works by Swiss artist Nicole Bachmann and British artist Tim Etchells. Through image, text and performance, each artist investigates written language as material and as score. A focus for both Bachmann and Etchells is the act or process of speaking out, which in their practices across different media, becomes a tool for transforming and subverting prescribed meaning.
Bachmann’s work situates the body as a site of knowledge production used to explore alternative discourses within language and form. Her new large-scale text drawings combine memory and automatic writing, which are reminiscent of the spoken word and human thought process - the repetition, inflection, correction, and hesitation we experience when thinking and speaking. The scale of the paper creates a performative act through the motions of writing, in which the artist's body is implicated within its process and evident in each work. The multiple layers of ink create creases and undulations in the paper, rendering a more sculptural form.
Her new performance video ‘along the rims’ (HD Single Channel Video) is premiered in the exhibition and presents three performers - Nandi Bhebhe, Patricia Langa and Cian McConn -outdoor in the natural landscape of Hackney Marshes, in London. Based around collaboration, exchange and the proximity of bodies, the performers’ move and speak together and individually. A fourth presence of the artist behind the camera is also felt within the ensemble. The speech shifts from understood language to utterings. This exploration is carried into her live performance, presented in the public square surrounding the gallery.
Bachmann considers Donna Haraway’s term “tentacular thinking”, which applies to the networks and exchanges we create, and how alliances are formed in unexpected ways because of this. By taking the performance outside the white cube, she encourages the viewer to reflect on this notion through human’s kinship with animals, evolution, and ecology.
Etchells' three new works take the form of light boxes, each of which combines text and image to create an ambiguous space of connection and disconnection. The images in these works are strange urban fragments; pictures of pavement or road surface which feature prominent but unidentifiable stains or marks on the concrete or tarmac surface. These accidental spillages, splashes or seepages are simultaneously abstract drawings and traces of dysfunctional human activity and narrative. They take on a metaphorical aspect - signs of another reality or of memory oozing through to stain the surfaces of an otherwise orderly environment. Paired with these images, Etchells' text fragments – akin to those used in his works on paper and neon sculptures – amplify the idea of trace, memory and secrets below the surface, creating a dynamic dialogue with the visual material and the viewer’s imagination.
Alongside the light boxes, Etchells presents a new performance work titled ‘Now That I Am Here I Am Ready To Leave’, involving a single performer, a mobile speaker system and a microphone. The performer carries their equipment into place and circles around or within the audience, before announcing a speech into public space, in all directions.
The public sphere is an important point of departure and subject of inquiry for each artist’s work. Global politics, body politics, contemporary identity, urban experience, and art ontologies are conveyed through varying approaches and mediums, both within the exhibition space and its surround public space. At a moment in which society questions closeness and interaction, each work in the exhibition explores the nature of human proximity, vocal gesture, and the projection of language into our surroundings.
Preview: Thursday 1st July 2021, 6-8pm
Performance Event: Friday 20th August, 7-8pm
Curator: Alys Williams
Generously supported by Stanley Thomas Johnson Foundation and Arbeitsstipendium Covid-19, City of Zurich.
With thanks to the Swiss Embassy London.
Nicole Bachmann (b. 1973, Zurich, CH) works and lives between Zurich, CH and London, UK. She holds a Diploma in Fine Art from Zurich University of the Arts (2007) and an MFA in Fine Art fromGoldsmiths, University of London (2010). Awards Include: Swiss Art Awards, shortlisted (2019);Freiraumstipendium, Zurich, CH (2018); Werkbeitrag, Stadt Zurich, winner (2015 & 2018); Art Prize2008, Nationale Suisse (2008); Swiss Design Award (2003). Bachmann has been exhibited internationally at galleries, institutions, biennials and fairs, including: VITRINE, London, UK;Singapore Biennale 2019, SG; Bündner Kunstmuseum, Chur, CH; Berlin Espace Diaphanes, Berlin,DE; Manifesta 11, Zurich, CH; Whitechapel Gallery, London, UK; ICA, London, UK; Kunsthalle St.Gallen, St. Gallen, CH; Eastside Projects, Birmingham, UK; Darling Foundation, Montreal, CA; Zabludowicz Collection, London, UK; Tenderpixel, London, UK; Block Universe, Performance ArtFestival, London, UK; Helmhaus Museum, Zurich, CH; Turner Contemporary, Margate, UK; Haus der Kunst Uri, Altdorf, CH; LUX Artists’ Moving Image, London, UK; Art Hall Tallinn, Tallinn, EE; New YorkArt Book Fair, MoMA PS1, USA; Modern Art Oxford, Oxford, UK; Kunsthalle Basel, Basel, CH; Videotank, Zurich, CH; Cabinett in Kallio Kunsthalle, Helsinki, FI; Centre Culturel Suisse, Paris, FR; Mimosa House, London, UK; E-Werk Freiburg, Freiburg, DE; TOPIC, Geneva, CH. Forthcoming events include 'Nocturnal Creatures' at Whitechapel Gallery, London, UK (17 July 2021, booking required). Bachmann was recently selected to exhibit in 'The London Open 2022' at Whitechapel Gallery next year.
Tim Etchells (b. 1962, Stevenage, UK) lives and works between London and Sheffield. He has produced major commissions for public space internationally including; ‘With/Against’, GreatExhibition of The North and BALTIC, Gateshead; ‘Different Today’, SITE Gallery, Sheffield; his poster project ‘And For The Rest’ created and presented in: Brussels (2014), Basel (2015), and Athens(2016); ‘Vacuum Days (Utrecht)’ (2016); and ’Eyes Looking’ a video installation which took overTimes Square, NYC, commissioned as part of Times Square Arts Alliance ‘Midnight Moments’ series(2016). His work has been presented internationally with solo exhibitions at galleries and museums including: Kunstverein Braunschweig, DE; TATE Modern, London, UK; Bloomberg SPACE, London,UK; Plymouth Arts Centre, Plymouth, UK; Jakopič Gallery, Ljubljana, SI; Bunkier Sztuki, Krakow, PL;Gasworks, London, UK; and Künstlerhaus Bremen, Bremen, DE. Etchells’ work was included in:Folkestone Triennial, Folkestone, UK, (2014); Gotenburg International Biennale, Sweden, (2011);and Manifesta 7, Rovereto, Italy, (2008). Further group exhibitions and performance programmes at galleries and museums internationally, include: Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf, DE; Kunsthalle Wein, Vienna, AT (2020); Ebensperger Rhomberg, Berlin, DE (2019); Heidelberger Kunstverein, Heidelberg, DE (2018); Kunsthalle Mainz, Mainz, DE (2017); The Showroom, London, UK (2017); TheGrundy, Blackpool, UK (2016); Turner Contemporary, Margate, UK (2015); Compton Verney, Warwickshire, UK (2015); Cubitt Gallery, London, UK (2015); Hayward Gallery, London, UK (2014);Arnolfini, Bristol, UK (2013); Württembergischer, Kunstverein Stuttgart, DE (2012); and NorwichCastle Museum and Art Gallery, Norwich, UK, (2011).
Longer biographies available on the artists' page.