Saturday, April 16, 2011

Jo Coupe: "A Distance Between Two Points " AirSpace Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent, UK

A Distance Between Two Points

Jo Coupe & Linda Persson

15th April Preview 7-10pm
16th April - 4th June 2011
Gallery Open Tuesday - Saturday 11am - 5pm

The phenomena of our experiences, the existence of matter, and its related situations, can be explored through a variety of means. Art, the sciences and philosophy offer propositions that are challenged through a set of criteria and conditions. A Distance Between Two Points, explores crossovers within art, the sciences and philosophy where the artists use materials, images and objects to create positions of experience that explore our understanding of physicality, value and perception. It is within the gaps, between the known and the unknown, where our curiosity can be sparked and open up new dialogues. AirSpace Gallery is delighted to be showing Jo Coupe and Linda Persson together for the first time.

Linda Perssonʼs work takes the form of sculptural installations (using moving image, performance, and sound) to confront and entice the audience into emotional queries on representation, value and the event. How the works are situated, and how the body navigates them, create tension that becomes as important as the space the works occupy. Three newly commissioned pieces are shown here under the collective title of Disappearance of the world, resemblance of the object. In the first of the pieces, Cradle Game (sculptural video installation), conversations about the origins of our development of knowledge, through our understanding of material, and contemplations on our societal use of this knowledge take place. Golden hands appear to play a disembodied game of paper scissors stone, out of sequence and disconnected, systems of value are negotiated through a performative act. In Dark Fossil, (film installation), on one screen we see a fossil fragment being traced back and forth in a dark void, the object continually transitioning between the visible and invisible as it moves. On the other screen a disembodied hand follows the contour on the ruins of the birthplace of Remus and Romolus, in Rome, forming a questioning dialogue of ritual, myth and history. Perssonʼs work can be considered playful and destabilising, where contrasts and contradictions in the actions of parts of the body or phenomena create interesting questions regarding perception and our value systems.

Jo Coupe uses readymade objects and invisible forces to create witty sculptural tensions between the gallery space, the viewer and the object. In Solid Air a series of stepladders appear entrapped in the space by a web of strings, however on closer inspection the strings appear to be floating in mid air. The impression of entrapment and stability immediately becomes more tenuous and the entire structure less stable. Another new piece, Tacky, throws an alchemic proposition at the viewer, as we come across a golden strip of Blu-tack, half unrolled and encrusted with jewels. Crystalline Energy was a temporary sculptural piece in a specially constructed gallery space in the basement of Lynemouth aluminium smelter in Northumberland. The whole space bristled with magnetised keys, coins, jewellery, nails, paperclips...the kind of thing you find in the bottom of your drawers. These stuck together in lines, forming impossible strands, which traced the contours of the magnetic fields. A series of pinhole photographs are here on display; the medium was chosen partly as the magnetic fields prohibited the use of more sophisticated equipment. Here, Coupeʼs interest centred around the powerful electromagnetic fields which are a unique by-product of aluminium production and its ability to produce phenomena (levitating coins, keys sticking rigidly from walls and cameras producing black or distorted images), the kind of things which are, in a different context, seen as evidence of supernatural activity.

Persson and Coupe both work with base material compounds that offer tensions of meaning, stability and value. How we may harness and understand these qualities is at the very core of our cultures and societies. The sciences are often seen as a world of facts and figures, concluding in explanations for phenomena that would ordinarily appear baffling. The artists in this exhibition are interested in how art and the sciences can question through proposition. Not everything we encounter needs to be explained, in cold facts. The form and structure of the works in the exhibition allows us to suspend our rational mind and begin searching for alternative explanations and their consequences. Progress occurs in both success and failure.

Linda Persson was born in Stockholm and graduated from Chelsea College of Art & Design in 2002 and Winchester School of Art in 2005, and have since been living and working in the U.K / Sweden. Persson is the founder of an artist run project XRAY and Xray online which occupy knowledge as a tool to engage and emphasise experimentation in contemporary video / film / performance/ sound and writing. She has forthcoming exhibitions at Liste, Berlin (Normalcy Bias 2), Drawing Room, London and SAGS at Woodmill projects, London. Persson has previously exhibited at Bondi Pavilion Gallery, Sydney, Australia, Studio44, Stockholm, Sweden, Art Container, Tallin, Estonia, Collective Gallery, Edinburgh, U.K, Utsikten Kunstsenter, Kvinesdal, Norway. Perssonʼs work is held in private collections internationally.

Jo Coupe was born in Stoke-on-Trent in 1975 and graduated with a BA in Fine Art from Newcastle University in 1998. After 12 years as a practicing artist, studying for an MA at Goldsmiths College, living for a time in New Orleans and London, she now works out of a converted post office in Gateshead, consulting experts in fields as diverse as jewellery, botany, and electronics. Recent projects have included a residency with global aluminium producer Alcan, a commission for Tatton Park Biennial and a solo show at Workplace Gallery, Gateshead. Jo Coupe is represented by Workplace Gallery, Gateshead and her work is held in public and private collections internationally.


Jo Coupe
Solid Air, 2011
Stepladders, String, Magnetic Field
height 12.5 cm
height 4 7/8 in
Courtesy the artist and Workplace Gallery