Project room: Emma McNally

15 April - 29 May 2010

Private View:
Wednesday 14 April, 6–8pm

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 drawings of
Emma McNally.

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.

f4 (detail)
graphite on paper
156 x 252 cm

graphite on paper
60 x 46 cm

graphite on paper
70.5 x 53 cm

graphite on paper
152 x 117 cm
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