Park McArthur
Poly
28 January 2016 – 3 April 2016
Opening: Thursday 28 January

Chisenhale Gallery presents a new commission and the first UK solo exhibition by New York-based artist Park McArthur who works primarily in sculpture, sound and text.

McArthur’s exhibition includes three new bodies of work and a text. A series of sculptures are made from wholesale-size, high-density acoustic polyurethane foam, designed to absorb sound and impact. Positioned within the gallery, the foam composes space, offering itself and its surroundings to be sensed and felt. Equally, the foam is affected by these surroundings. It degenerates, or, put another way, undergoes its own generation, evidenced by alterations in its colour and texture over time.

A further series of works – large paper pieces – engages the properties of superabsorbent polymer powder, a substance developed to soak up and hold large quantities of liquid. An invention of post-war materials science, superabsorbent polymer is most commonly used in disposable hygiene products such as incontinence pads, bed liners and sanitary towels. With the introduction of liquid, the powder becomes a gel; swelling to hundreds of times its original size. The polymer powder reacts to the paper pulp, complicating the papermaking process and producing an unstable material that is also reactive to the conditions within the gallery.

A third component consists of a series of stainless steel trays on low plinths, packed with small, single-use items – such as condoms, latex gloves, dental dams, external catheters and pressure-reducing heel cups – designed to absorb, contain, and distribute their contents. Through their potential uses, these items enact some of the sculptural properties of the foam and polymer paper. They underline the permeability of the exhibition itself, calling into relation seemingly bounded things: foam and concrete floor, polymer powder and atmospheric conditions, context and effect.

In addition to her use of readymade industrial objects, McArthur is interested in objects that result from – what she describes as – ‘the work necessary for life’: work that is also known as reproductive labour or living labour. Objects of this nature featured in previous sculptures and installations include, the artist’s own pyjamas, worn and altered by processes of care and sleep, as well as twenty temporary access ramps, made or purchased at McArthur’s request in order to enter and exit buildings by wheelchair.

Less interested in the body as a sovereign unit than in the fleshiness of bodies that deny such a unit, McArthur asks what materiality has to do with flesh and what flesh has to do with absorption, and absorption’s sibling, expulsion. In this exhibition, the polymeric foam and powder, and the prophylactics and medical products, show what it is to insulate, isolate and soak up, what it is to bear, to accommodate and to cushion. At the root of these new works is a particular obstinacy of material that allows for an analysis of the inseparable material relations of art to life.

To download an interview with Park McArthur about her exhibition at Chisenhale Gallery, please click here. 

To download the exhibition handout, please click here.

Park McArthur (born 1984, North Carolina, USA) lives and works in New York. Solo exhibitions include Lars Friedrich, Berlin (2014); Yale Union, Portland, Oregon (2014); and Essex Street, New York (2014). Group exhibitions include Greater New York, PS1 MoMA, New York; Unorthodox, The Jewish Museum, New York; Ludwig Forum, Aachen (all 2015); Deborah Schamoni, Munich (2015); The Kitchen, New York (2013). Her first book, Beverly Buchanan, 1978 – 1981, co-edited with Jennifer Burris Staton, was published by Athénée Press (2015).

Lead Supporter: Shane Akeroyd.

Supported by the Genesis Prize, The Henry Moore Foundation, the Harpo Foundation and Brooke and Matthew Barzun.

With additional support from Barbara and Howard Morse and Chisenhale Gallery Patrons and Supporters. With thanks to ESSEX STREET, New York.

Chisenhale Gallery's Talks & Events Programme 2016 is supported by
Helen Thorpe.

Chisenhale Gallery’s Exhibition Programme 2016 is supported by
Nicoletta Fiorucci.

Park McArthur would like to thank: Radha Pandey and Susan Kelley at The Morgan Conservatory, Alex McArthur, Margaret Herman, John McArthur, Liz Carr, Jennifer Burris, Sonya Dyer, Louise Hickman, Nadja Millner-Larsen, Ellen Clifford, Mark Couzens, Cameron Rowland, Jason Loebs, Isla Leaver-Yap, Andrew Blackley, Jeannine Tang, and Jason Hirata.

  • Saturday 2 April

    Selected by Park McArthur, a second screening of the documentary made by Dagmar Schultz, Audre Lorde, The Berlin Years 1984–1992, reflecting the influence of Lorde as a radical feminist, writer and advocate for social justice on McArthur’s work. The film also reflects Lorde’s battle with terminal cancer and the network of support that surrounded her at this time. This event is free to attend but booking is recommended. To reserve a place please visit our Eventbrite page here.

    BSL interpretation for events at Chisenhale Gallery is available on request; please contact Tommie Introna tommie.introna@chisenhale.org.uk for further information. Where possible, please give two weeks notice if you require interpretation in order for us to confirm an interpreter.
    Friday 18 March

    An early morning viewing of Park McArthur’s exhibition, including an introduction by Emma Moore, Offsite and Education Curator at Chisenhale, with coffee and cakes generously provided by the East End Women’s Institute. Free to attend, no booking required.    

    Tuesday 8 March

    Selected by Park McArthur, a screening of the documentary made by Dagmar Schultz, Audre Lorde, The Berlin Years 1984–1992, reflecting the influence of Lorde as a radical feminist, writer and advocate for social justice on McArthur’s work. The film also reflects Lorde’s battle with terminal cancer and the network of support that surrounded her at this time. This event is free to attend but booking is recommended. To reserve a place please visit our Eventbrite page here.

    Saturday 20 February

    Jonathan P Watts leads a gallery tour of Park McArthur’s exhibition, drawing on his research into materials, such as plastics and gels, that were declassified following the Second World War and introduced into everyday use. Watts is a writer and regular contributor to frieze magazine. This event is free to attend but booking is recommended. To reserve a place please visit our Eventbrite page here.

    Saturday 6 February

    A seminar with speakers Ellen Clifford, member of the National Steering Group of Disabled People Against the Cuts; Nadja Millner-Larsen, lecturer in Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths University; and artist Park McArthur on the current climate of austerity in the UK and the informal structures of care which grow in the absence of national infrastructures. This event is free to attend but booking is recommended. To reserve a place please visit our Eventbrite page here.

    Wednesday 3 February

    Artist Park McArthur is joined in conversation by Isla Leaver-Yap, Walker Art Center’s Bentson Scholar of Moving Image in Minneapolis and Director of LUX, Scotland to discuss her new commission at Chisenhale Gallery. This event is presented in partnership with Tate Modern. Tickets are £9 with £6 concessions available. For booking information please visit www.tate.org.uk.

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