The room is darkened and the light from outside creeps in through the shutters and peruses the objects carefully. A trickle of water from the ceiling travels down the length of string and glistens periodically when the light catches its surface. The bluish hue from a projector on standby tries to perfect an “O” on a board propped against the wall as the light travels down a tube blowing precariously in the wind from a fan seated on the floor. A pen suspended from a string taps a beat with its beak on the paper, each time making contact and announcing its touch with a thin blue line. The artist’s finger caresses her opened eye, stroking and touching the soft white matter until a pool of water is formed causing tears to eventually materialise. A light attached to a vertical tube goes on and off, and on and off, like a beacon in the corner leading your path from dark to light like a pencil to paper.
For her solo show at SE8 Gallery, Tamarin Norwood has provided us with assembled objects: objects which speak to themselves through a series of interlinking and communicative tools, objects that are aware of their presence within a space but are simultaneously trying to question their own representation, and objects that question the reciprocity of making and receiving marks.
The act of blindness, or the inability to see properly, is a recurring idea within the exhibition. The object assemblages are playing a part for which they were not told. Here, the pen becomes a finger, the circle of light becomes the ink and the cursor becomes a drawing. The objects have been given a new purpose and through this prescription they are prosthetics of their former selves. Like the cane as the prosthetic eye for blind theologian John M. Hull, who describes the notion of blindness as being “a desperate feeling of being enclosed”, the objects establish certain roles for each other in the eradication of their inherent objecthood.
The familiarity of these objects – a bicycle light, the I-beam cursor, the tip of a pencil – only provide us with a certain depth of knowledge with which we can make sense of the groupings. We are the blind man with the white cane in this instance.
Amongst the objects are explorations of language structures and processes. Titles of works such as Eye (i), Beckon (i, there there) and Beacon (I) investigate the idea of double edged meanings within language, allowing the words themselves to become abstract and, in a sense, integral to the viewing experience. The artist’s eye in the video work Beckon (i, there there) is placed on the wall opposite a flashing I-beam cursor in Beacon (I). The viewer is made aware of the homophones used consistently throughout the work with the reiteration of the three eyes: the I (the individual), the eye (the physical eye) and the I-beam cursor. All three eyes gesticulate towards something, whether it be the presence within the space, or the interrogation of the eye as an alternative object, we become intimately aware of creating resemblances between disparate physical elements in order to form a clear and coherent understanding.
The mini-worlds and stories created by Norwood are at once strikingly and unashamedly beautiful but also conceptually labyrinthine – one finds tracing the paths of metaphors and meaning, with Bataille’s Story of The Eye bleeding into Derrida’s musings on the act of drawing, challenging but rewarding. At the centre of Norwood’s work is the primary focus on the point of contact between various physical and literal objects. These points of contact are often fragmented (the occasional contact of pen to paper, for example) however they ascertain a certain mapping of the territory in which they inhabit, playfully exploring the relationships between, and the relationships of, themselves and their audience.
The exhibition runs from Friday 25th September – 31st October 2015 at SE8 Gallery, Deptford.
Rebecca Edwards is an independent curator and writer based in London. Recent curated exhibitions include MWMITCA: sound installation of artist Alex Tyrrell, Lewisham ArtHouse, (Aug 2015), A Statue Is Present: Stories of Melancholy and Raving Madness, Royal College of Psychiatrists, London, with works by Daniel Silver, Travis Jeppesen, Mikey cook and Jeremy Magar (April 2015) and A Sense of Things: co-curated group show, Zabludowicz Collection, London (2014). Recent written projects include An Interview with Tamarin Norwood for SE8 Gallery (September 2015), exhibition guide text for Terrapolis, Athens (July 2015) and catalogue essay for A Statue Is Present (April 2015).