saving chewing gums from mammoth's hair
10 February - 11 March 2023
Closing event with musical performance by Enej Gala and Emmanuel Awuni
Thursday 9 March 18.00 - 20.00
TJ Boulting and A plus A galleries are pleased to present the second installment of their collaboration, an exchange project that sees the two galleries host each other’s exhibitions in each other’s spaces. After TJ Boulting’s solo exhibition of Kate Dunn at A plus A in Venice in 2021, the reciprocal exhibition by A Plus A of Enej Gala is the artist's first solo exhibition in the UK.
saving chewing gums from mammoth’s hair presents a new series of sculptural groups, formally unconnected yet intimately linked, inspired by puppet theatre. The accompanying text by Treti Galaxie sees two characters, the wall based Phil and the floor based Will, in a looped dialogue about the spectator, the works and their role in the show. While in figure theatre the cross-bar controlling the puppet has a standard form, usually concealed during performances, here it is presented by the artist in multiple forms that emphasise the difficulty in operating it and the puppeteer’s consequent fatigue through its use. The threads, in this case non-uniform and dangling, do not direct any movement, but rather are animated by the passage of the audience.
Three synthetic fur sculptures, shaped like ancient wheelbarrows, lie disjointed on the floor. These tools originally invented to increase human strength, used in agriculture and the military, are crushed by their own weight, and assume anthropomorphic forms. The artificial fur covering them is made of materials derived from petroleum, a substance mainly composed of the dissolution of the bodies of extinct animals. In his research, the artist usually invents new objects and modifies those linked to culture and everyday life, often deliberately sabotaging their form and function. In addition to emphasising unexpected characteristics and hidden potentialities, these transformations are intended to emphasise the impossibility of an equal dialogue between inventor and invented, thus subverting the usual hierarchies.
The title of the exhibition suggests itself as a paradigm of this approach: removing chewing gum from a mammoth’s hair, not with the intention of preserving the remains of an extinct animal but to preserve parts of a sweet with no nutritional properties and available almost everywhere, a senseless reversal of values and priorities, although not very far from the attitude of most governments towards global warming.
In saving chewing gums from mammoth’s hair puppet controllers from parallel dimensions gathered at a fair to choose the most suitable puppet to bond with. Or are the three fugitive puppets trying to play dead on the gallery floor, pursued by an army of enraged controllers? Maybe the unemployed controllers are just observing marionettes that can’t deal with their freedom. Ultimately it is up to the audience to connect the threads.