What would going back to things themselves mean, really? Assembly Point’s inaugural exhibition—titled just that: Back to the Things Themselves—probes at the phenomenology of objects and opens at the new London artist-run space this week on June 18. Founders James Edgar and Sam Walker (who work under the Edgar-Walker moniker) have curated the Peckham gallery and studio space’s inaugural exhibition, inviting six other artists and artist duos, including Nicholas Brooks and May Hands, to present their manifestations of ‘things’. Taking its title from the early 20th century work of philosopher Edmund Husserl, the phrase invites the notion of ‘structures of experience’ and questions the links between how things appear and how they are in turn perceived.
For Edgar and Walker, ‘things’ can mean a lot of things—objects, images, materials, structures, processes. They ask the participating artists to examine the very tenets of materiality through the lens of phenomenological inquiry, and to consider “everyday encounters with the material world”, exploring the ways in whey contribute to our collective sense of identity, value, and place. Amongst the seven artists and artist duos is London-based artist Nicholas Brooks, whose work with film and sculpture exposes the fleeting nature of many of the things used to define the world: fleeting encounters, fleeting objects, fleeting narratives. Through his characteristic fragmented archeological scenes, Brooks creates a kind of disintegrated reality, drawing attention to each object’s place, and the cultural space they occupy.
Joining Brooks is May Hands, whose paintings and sculptures poke at the materiality behind commodity, repurposing disposable couture brand packaging and pound-shop commodities as materials for her sculptural pieces. A Chanel ribbon becomes the string of a bucket in 2015’s ‘Bucket III (Please Come Again)’ and the luxury product’s packaging paper becomes 2014’s ‘Song River Chanel (Pink and Blue)’. Julia Crabtree and William Evans, the only duo aside from Edgar–Walker, select to explore the phenomenology of objects by examining the gap between virtual and real spaces, “playfully manipulating interfaces, objects and imagery into placeless, immersive scenarios”.
Another artist, Nicolas Feldmeyer, uses everything from drawings and installation to photography and film to intervene in the fields of landscape, geometry, and architecture, while Imran Perretta, like May Hands, uses socio-culturally inscribed objects like whitening creams and prayer mats as raw materials, and Henna Vainio presents sculptures and reliefs that use the “casts of everyday objects in their interpretations of architectural spaces and poetic rhythms”. The last addition to the lineup is Edgar-Walker itself, using a palette of found objects and building materials to examine the visual language at play in commonly ignored landscapes, like construction sites. The exhibition will also bring a publication in conjunction with the show that includes various contributions from the exhibiting artists as well as a previously unpublished essay by contemporary philosopher Graham Harman.