Imagine that the history of the world dates from the day
when there was an encounter of two atoms, where two vortices,
two chemical dances combine.
Paul Cézanne to Joachim Gasquet
Mummery + Schnelle is pleased to announce an exhibition of the
When considering McNally’s work, an analogy can be made
between experimental art and experimental science. In the late
1890s C.T.R Wilson built a chamber in order to reproduce atmospheric
phenomena of the real world – clouds – in the laboratory.
But fellow scientists working alongside Wilson observed something
other than artificial clouds in his chamber. Visible in the
condensation produced there were the tracks of real, very small
things that had never been observed before – sub-atomic
particles. This transformation of the meteorologist’s
cloud chamber into the physicist’s bubble chamber has
been described as a change from experimentation that mimics
nature to one that takes nature apart.
McNally describes her drawings as chambers. In them she tracks
basic connections in matter. Waves of forces play out through
time and this 'time' is compressed into each drawing and each
drawing becomes the trace of this ‘time’, a footprint
suggesting that something was once present, or felt, or otherwise
important. In the main work in this exhibition, Field 4, McNally
seeks to create a sort of non-hierarchic multiple 'space', with
no stable or definable boundaries, incorporating the micro-cosmos
of the atom and the macro-cosmos of the star formation in a
complex junction, intersection or spatial hybrid. Enfolding
and unfurling, humming composite polyrhythmic spaces emerge
from the different percussive rhythms and organizations of marks
that McNally lays down.
McNally works with different forms of graphite and the multi-layered
relevance of carbon is very important to the making of her work
and to its meaning. Carbon is an essential element in the make
up of individual human bodies and of the universe. It has a
unique ability to bond with other atoms and can be an excellent
conductor of heat and electricity in one form, and an insulator
in another. For McNally, using graphite allows for a sort of
material entanglement, or intertwining, of the 'self' and the
'world', echoing the idea inherent to phenomenology that to
be is to be in the world. The constant erasures and rubbings
out in her working method are a form of continual transforming
and becoming - a combining or knotting in of the self and the
world where everything is radically relational and in a constant
state of shifting dynamic.
Emma McNally was born in 1969. She lives and works in London.