Featuring Ken Unsworth, Mike Parr, Jenny Watson, John Nixon, Tony Clark, Dale Frank, Robert Owen, Vivienne Shark LeWitt and Hilarie Mais.
Exhibition Dates: 13 May – 31 May 1986
"The forbidden objects", a long-travelled conceit of frustrated desire, gives repeated testimony to an ancient and lost battle. Its contradictory motifs enflank a gap that has been forcibly bridged. It carries an interior post-scriptum to a primordial struggle of human consciousness through which the order of culture overpowers, domesticates, articulates and dis-places the order of nature.
The order of nature itself is instated through a perverse historicity, installing an anterior condition to the colonising order of culture.
The concept of nature congeals through dislocation, compression, abbreviation and domination. The limitless fantasies of the new-born are trimmed and trammeled, made to yield to the accession of the human and the social with their delimited realms of action and controlled navigational circuits for the channelling of desire.
Prescription and interdiction establish a culture of liminal positions and regulating dimensions. The articulated order of culture forbids the pluri-dimensional universe of nature.
Thenceforward the dis-order of nature registers its presence through fugitive messages, vestigial stains, trace marks and after-images, propulsive signals given back from beyond, from the shadowed and hidden realm, the womb of unbridled desire.
The discourse of culture is a discourse of rupture. It is also a highly derivative discourse: appropriating, ingratiating, making over, stitching together, quoting and referring.
Culture always monitors its progressive absorption of the individual as if endorses, modulates, and constrains. Some of its operations occur softly and silently, imperceptibly. Others more sharply and violently. Sutures bracket the lips of closed wounds, through which things have been excised or interned.
In our fettered, encultured condition, we experience a restless lateral shift. Inextinguishable deflected desire propels an associative movement outwards, a metonymic expansion of possession and dispossession. Wedded to our alienation, we seek recuperation through perpetual transaction, through substitutive conditions of circulation and exchange.
"Individuality" is achieved only through a process of inscription and insertion within the order of culture, which controls and dictates sociality's terms. The cultural order precedes the individual's entry into it. It is laid out already, permitting small spaces through which to act in some particulars. Individuation is anticipated within culture's operational repertoire. Acting individually, we complete culture's design and hold.
The order of culture.
The ordination of culture.
The ordeal of culture.
The ordure of culture.
(Manzoni's faecal casket.)
Some of the more thoughtful art of the present is moulded and mediated by a critical consciousness of the delimiting conditions of culture and the objects it forbids; in addition, the dimensions of exploratory, uncanalised activity it forbids through an overarching materialist, instrumental emphasis, which reinscribes the regime of the social to the exclusion of other forms of consciousness.
Culture disguises its subsistence on relentless expropriation and exchange through its favour and production of self-images of a counterfeit whole-ness and stasis. Reversing the displacement, art may present images of disorder, adulteration, substitution and disguise, expressing the restless libidinal deferral and dissimulation that are the operational conditions of the regent order of culture.
Defensive and proactive strategies may occur through art. Some projects seek the reopening of the pointillist and aleatory character of intuitive thought, a resistant retrieval of a poetic dimension.
Others have recourse to displaced, mutant or neglected forms, through which the erasures entailed in dominant, convergent perspectives, may be expressed.
Culture's instrumental impulses may be disclosed through representation of its interdictions and proscriptive devices. New, reversed meanings may be salvaged from the shadowed spaces in the interior of the dominant conventions, or in overlooked spaces that lie outside them, thereby re-presenting in altered, reconstituted forms the power of reproduction of a pre-emptive Reality, in contrast to what this opposes.