Ode to matters
22 March - 14 April
Opening: 21 March 6-9pm.
Alex McNamee studied at The Slade School of Art in 2013. She currently lives and works in London.
An email conversation between Alex McNamee and Jade Jamean Lees.
Jade Jamean Lees: You have been making the work within the gallery and have created mostly site specific work for nearly two weeks, how important is it for you that your work is made on site/for the site?
Alex McNamee: I wish I didn’t make site specific work, its sooooo stressful! Because it’s so intense both mentally and physically - I go into a sort of making trance and when it’s done I forget the pain! - but I always come back to it. I think I need that battle that comes with making in the space, I need the uncertainty, the failures and successes. Through that method the work becomes some sort of layered timeline, of my expectations and the manners of the material – we end up seeing strange things, that are out of my and the matters control.
JJL: It has been fascinating seeing you transform objects by touching and adding to them over time, combining things to make new objects, creating new forms. Can you please talk about the links between some of the different objects within the show and the importance of them changing into new forms?
AM: I love collecting rocks and have found a couple of flints that I think look like arrow heads, though other people have ‘ummmed’ about that. This got me thinking about the ‘professional object’ vs an ‘object of practise’. Surely stone-age people practised, and made some shit arrow heads?
These ‘maybe’ objects sit somewhere between a ‘chuckable’ stone and an artefact - depending on who touches them. I’ve made objects that are like these ‘maybe’ rocks – my ‘Erratic on chewing gum pebbles’ is not a perfect replica of a glacier boulder or a paper weight, but it can be/suggest both forms or neither. Depending on who you are and what you see.
JJL: Why do you think we have such power over objects to change their appearance, meaning and function by just looking at them? And do the objects have any power over us?
AM: The power between us and objects should constantly shift I think? You and I both experience this shift completely differently. Everything you have done/are doing/could do, is feeding into the way you perceive things. The way I can best describe it is that I used to live with three smokers and any object in our house that had a slight dent in it became a potential ashtray. They saw the function of a seashell completely differently to me. By their ash and touch they turned an object into what they wanted it to be. They could change the name and purpose and shape, they could say ‘pass the ashtray’ and someone would grab the seashell. After that, I could see dents that weren’t there before.
JJL: Do you think we are the greater matter?
AM: When I’m in the middle of making big sculptures like these that I’ve made for the show, I think matter is the greater matter because it beats me up so bad! But I think the way our brains transform and process matter is the most interesting matter that matters for me.
JJL: It seems like there are certain matters that you keep going back to, like pond water and sand.
AM: My process of making starts by reading everything I find vaguely interesting – and from there words are pulled out and linguistic and aesthetic links are made and played with. They are inanities, which I try to then touch. I’ve got into a loop of thinking that ponds and tv screens are the same. And I guess I’m still trying to grasp it - water looks like TV static when it moves in certain light and TVs are partly made from sand.
JJL: Does matter always matter? And why does matter, matter so much to you?
AM: No, matter doesn’t always matter to everyone … but that thought is a useful thought, so that matters. Matter matters so much to me becaaaaaause … I’m not good at anything else … haha!