Sometimes Making Something Leads to Nothing

13 February - 28 March 2009

Sometimes Making Something Leads to Nothing takes its title from a work by the Belgian born artist Francis Alÿs. In his short film Paradox of Praxis I, the artist pushes a large block of ice through the streets of Mexico City: at 9.15am he is battling with the traction of a huge weight, by lunchtime he is shuffling it with his feet, and at 6.47pm all that remains is a small wet stain on the pavement.

The theme of transformation, poetic by definition but also a little subversive, is central to Alÿs’s work and to that of all the artists that are gathered in this exhibition. It manifests in different ways: in the near violence of a Callum Innes painting, the surface dissolved as well as applied; in the shift between grandeur and banality in Iran do Espirito Santo’s black granite forms; in Maris’ painting, made with the burnt ashes of Jacques Derrida’s 1978 treatise The Truth of Painting – one read and one unread copy – bound into acrylic medium; in the reverse alchemy of Cornelia Parker’s flattened silver objects; and in the metamorphic potential of Peter Liversidge’s floral tribute, the letters picking out a phrase that echoes the paradox of Alÿs’s endeavour and perhaps provides an alternative title for the exhibition: One Man’s Vulgarity is Another’s Lyric.* In all these works there is a balance between absence and presence… between the idea and the object… between what isn’t there as well as what is; the space between things in which transformation occurs.

This exhibition is the first to make use of both Gallery I and Gallery II.

*One Man’s Vulgarity is Another’s Lyric refers to the arrest of a man for wearing a jacket in an American court emblazoned with the words: fuck the draft. He was charged with breach of the peace, but found not guilty.