A Defect in Broke Tissue presents new work by the British artist Jamie Shovlin that considers the relationship between information and its materiality with specific emphasis on the politics of source material, its archival legacy and its means of future distribution. The exhibition has evolved out the artist’s long-term interest in the contemporary currency and potential future of archiving ephemeral information sources and the necessity of regional and geographically specific sources of information within an ever-increasing global network of information.
The exhibition is grounded in three animations that consider the relationship between the geopolitics and history of the British Library as a site alongside its resourcefulness as a place of knowledge. Employing material and resources within the Library’s Newspaper stores, these works include Pan and Scan 2012-3, a digital animation that follows a news story across microfilm copies of the New York Times, Washington Post and Los Angeles Times. Spanning more than 3 years of coverage, the story details the discovery of a rape and murder of an Iraqi family perpetrated by US soldiers in 2006, known as the Mahmudiyah killings, detailing the discovery of the crime through to sentencing for the soldiers involved.
Displayed alongside are Untitled (Free) 2013 and Untitled (Tempo) 2013, each created using the same source material, the newspaper archive, but using only a single image – a notice placed, respectively, in microfilm copies of the Tehran Times and Baghdad Observer denoting missing and damaged content – that continually reconstructs its form and subsequent reading. Edited to the percussive arrangement related in each work’s title, the animations build text on top of text generating new combinations with each drum/metronome hit.
The use of newspapers as an observable source of history making interests the artist: how something so ephemeral in nature can function in terms of retrospective readings of history. Does looking at the messy accumulation of information in process give a more legitimate and humanistic sense of history than the comfortable and edited end point that we are offered from encyclopaedic sources? To what extent does the geographic and historical origin of the publication contribute to its take on the event?
In the Three Fucked Asteriks series of pigment-based works, the crossover between literary and written standard is inverted through formal design, where meaning, stranded between intended usage and floated form, breaks down. Each work uses the eponymous punctuation mark as both structural and formal device in picture making. Set in various sizes and invariably monochrome (nominally evoking the black and white of the standard printed page), the star-shaped asterisk appears in each picture three times, obscuring the variety of layers beneath the final surface.
The exhibition is completed by a number of related works including two drawings from the Smoke series. In these meticulously realised charcoal drawings, the artist conflates imagery and medium with works derived from Internet-sourced visuals of smoke. The origin of image and the cause of the smoke is related only in the suffix that accompanies each drawing leaving the potential interpretation of each work largely with the viewer.
A Defect in Broke Tissue is Jamie Shovlin’s first solo exhibition in Amsterdam. Previous solo exhibitions include: Various Arrangements at Haunch of Venison, London. Hiker Meat, MACRO, Rome. In Search of Perfect Harmony, Art Now, Tate Britain, London. Forthcoming solo exhibitions are: Hiker Meat at the Cornerhouse, Manchester. How Most of What You Know is Reconstruction, City Art Gallery, Southampton
Boezelaer|Nispen De Clercqstraat 64 1052NJ Amsterdam
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