Tracing Submergence  

Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos & Jan Hogan
Tracing Submergence 

Tracing Submergence  virtual gallery detail view - click to enter exhibition

Enter exhibition

12 August - 1 December 2020

Tracing Submergence, a collaboration between Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos and Jan Hogan, is the latest in the gallery's series of virtual exhibitions. Video, photography and poetry intertwine to create one work, the story of which is told in stages. The six shorter videos, Tracing Submergence I - VI, created during lockdown, are experiments in the tensions between the solid and the liquid, the human and the non-human. These works are all around a minute long, enclosed within the resonant sound of a reaction unseen; metal upon metal perhaps, a gong-like noise not unlike the sealing of a meditation. Each work presents two screens, a Zoom call between continents - Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos in London, UK, and Hogan in Hobart, Tasmania - a mirroring of actions transmuting their physical distance, the thickness of the screens between them. The disembodied hands draw on Japanese paper, partially submerged in water. Ink is pulled across the paper slowly, instinctively. It bleeds into the water, leaking its jet black into the water’s neutrality, creating smoky clouds reminiscent of a fire’s death. Elements in opposition. As closely as the hands might replicate one another, the ink blossoms at different rates; a simultaneity in gesture, an uncontrollable leaking nonetheless. Ink is drawn up the wrist, the boundary between the body and the water negated. Ink marked along vein lines, where our bodies’ own water rushes so consistently. The work becomes an extension of our internal and external existences, a parallel of the porosity between our skin and the outside world.

The longer video work, Tracing Submergence, is an extension of these themes. In this work the hands appear in one screen but, in times when we are stretched apart, this feels like an illusion. Sticks for the ink are replaced by feather quills, submerged in the water this time. They form a spine for the paper here, a watery soundscape providing a regularity for these actions. Hands manipulate the paper, testing its malleability, the limits of the material. We see the paper’s sodden flatness become dry and sculptural; a wordless book bound and stitched, a gold leaf orb in its centre. The geological is introduced, traced by the water’s passage of black ink across white paper and the hands that have crumpled the material - creating a rock face, the poetics of terrain. This imprint of water’s movement, this geology of the intertwining of human and non-human, is captured in Tracing II - V, photographs of the paper layered. These photographs record a leaking of sorts, the pattern left by water submerging material while skin imprints upon it, testing the terrains that might be made. The work in Tracing Submergence investigates the shapeshifting not only of our selves but the elements around us, a record of our attempts at permanence in a world of shifting uncertainties.

Dr Jan Hogan is an artist and academic exploring the interweaving of nature and culture in material traces of artistic practice. Jan is Head of Art, School of Creative Arts and Media, University of Tasmania and is the coordinator of the UTAS Printmaking & Drawing Department. Her practice-led research explores the traces left in the land of past events intertwining deep geological time with historical events and the present moment. Jan exhibits regularly and her work is represented in Australian national and state collections.

Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos works with performance, photography and text, as well as sculpture and painting. He has performed at the 58th Venice Art Biennale 2019, the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale 2016, the Tate Modern, Inhotim Instituto de Arte Contemporânea Brazil, the Danish Royal Cast Collection, the Royal Music Academy of Sweden, and other institutions, and has shown his work at the London College of Communication, The Arebyte Gallery, the Palais de Tokyo etc. He is a fiction author, with his first book The Book of Water published in Greek and to be published in English by ERIS press. He is also Professor of Law & Theory at the University of Westminster, and founder and Director of The Westminster Law & Theory Lab, as well as permanently affiliated to the University Institute of Architecture, Venice since 2009. His academic books include the monographs Absent Environments (2007), and Spatial Justice: Body Lawscape Atmosphere (2014).

Text by Tess Charnley