D.B. David Blamey
25th October to 25th November 2007
FOUR, Fourth Floor 11 Burgh Quay Dublin 2
Solo exhibition by David Blamey curated by Paul O’Neill.
For his first solo exhibition in Ireland, David Blamey presented two new works that correspond to the spatial peculiarities of the gallery at Four. Commonplace in their materiality, and yet monumental in their transformative presence, the works addressed the constraints of the exhibition space by taking us beyond it. With references spanning the quotidian photography of Ed Ruscha and Christian Boltanski, the iconography of spiritual organizations, minimalism, mysticism, system theories and global tourism, this presentation extended Blamey’s reputation for meticulousness and fastidious under-production. His works were presented as quietly assisted ready-mades awaiting the viewer’s scrutiny and ultimately, their evaluation. In so doing, the exhibition D.B. raised questions about how qualitative values in art can be produced without obvious cultural agency.
Continuing his on-going series of pin drawings on fabricated panels, Pin Board 2, (2007) was a scaled-up notice board almost entirely covered with office pins. Upon closer inspection, this mass of colours and sizes registered a multitude of small disparities that stem from the varied geographic sources from which they originate. Blamey states, “If you compare a 1/16″ diameter round head pin manufactured in the US with the same type of thing made in Spain or the UK, you will find differences. Subtle inconsistencies in production values have allowed me to accumulate a range of colour variations and sizes from all over the world that creates, in accumulation, a sense of space.”
Through a laborious process of gathering, drawing and building, these works turned on the possibility of transforming commonplace materials into a satiated map of the universe, with so many places, times and points of intersection and (in-) significance. Pin Board 2 remains ambivalently positioned between a commonly employed bulletin board with all its notices removed and the highly crafted embodiment of a contemplative spatial illusion. The effect is one of pleasurable disorientation. In Road, (2007) row upon row of individually framed watercolours hung in a grid. These paintings by unknown Indian art students were purchased by Blamey during two trips to Mumbai’s so-called Thieves’ Market (Chor Bazaar) in 2005 and 2007.
Never intended for exhibition, or to be seen as a collective whole, the examination papers were gathered together here for their first public display. Each and every representation showed the same scene: a figure walking away from the viewer down a wide straight road under a pale blue sky. Equivalent, but again varying in small ways, the overall image was of multiple interpretations of a single moment frozen in time.
D.B. makes apparent Blamey’s critique of fixed notions of creative autonomy by eschewing self-categorization from within an art-world premised on specialization and signature aesthetics. Describing his practice as being engaged with “the idea that the distance between the art world and the real world can be almost nothing” and with the work evolving from a process of “framing, adjusting, assisting, promoting, thinking-about and reassessing what’s already there”, Blamey’s methods echo Douglas Heubler’s maxim that “the world is more or less full of objects, more or less interesting — I do not wish to add to them”.
Blamey’s guiding principle that the stuff we have at our disposal is already complicated enough without adding anything more therein converges with his observation that our perception of the world can never meet our understanding of it. His projects often pivot on this dialectical tension between things that are so familiar that they have become almost invisible and ideals that are somehow always out of reach. This struggle to simply understand is often informed by an interest in belief systems from parallel fields of cultural production, whether it is the spiritual movement, popular science or, in this instance, in considering the art world as a debatable social sub-system in and of itself.
D.B. therefore was an exhibition that resisted any resolution that a normative solo show may purport to offer. Instead it endeavoured to better understand those very impulses that lead us towards any such attempted conclusion.
Adapted from the press release.