27 September – 12 November 2017
White Cube Bermondsey
‘The Illuminating Gas [...] systematically imposes a formless anxiety, diverging yet centrifugal, directed not toward the most withheld secrets but toward the imitation and the transmutation of the most visible forms: each word at the same time energised and drained, filled and emptied by the possibility of there being yet another meaning, this one or that one, or neither one nor the other, but a third, or none.’ Michel Foucault (1926–84)
White Cube presented an installation by Cerith Wyn Evans in ‘9x9x9’ at Bermondsey. Following on from his recent commission for the Duveen Galleries at Tate Britain, London, Neon Forms (After Noh IV) (2017) transposes and transforms energy into sculptural form, creating what the artist has described as a ‘zone for meditation and a place for reverie’.
Neon Forms (After Noh IV) consists of a complex ‘score’ of white neon, suspended from the ceiling by cables, which arcs, extends, folds and disappears into space through a combination of delicate single lines and dense, chaotic clusters. With multiple layers and points of entry, it resists closed form, creating a suspended ‘figure’ that appears from some angles as if drawn from a single broken line, while from others, as if extruding and collaging space itself and making the viewer’s experience of it elastic. Occupying the entire height of the room, from its initial suspension from the 9m high ceiling to, at its lowest point, almost touching the floor, its meeting of forms and intersecting curves suggests a nucleus of energy barely contained.
The complex form or ‘figure’ of the work suggests the folds and flow of energy, via material and immaterial conduits, circuitry and choreology – the practice of translating movement into notational form. Incorporating some of the codified and precise movements of Japanese Noh theatre adopted in previous neon works, as well as elements from earlier sculptures that translated diagrammatic flight paths into neon, it traces a trajectory of alignments, gestures, folds, orientations and footsteps, transposing spatio/temporal energy into material charge and visual form.
In his work, Wyn Evans creates moments of rupture within existing structures of communication – whether visual or audio – using the ‘strategies of refraction, juxtaposition, superimposition and contradiction, occluding and revealing’. Seeing the exhibition as an ‘experiment’ with fluid recourse to scores, maps, instructions and diagrams, and responding specifically to the architecture of the gallery, Wyn Evans aims to question the viewer’s notion of reality and cognition, perception and subjectivity.