‘Dear Esther. I sometimes feel as if I’ve given birth to this island. Somewhere, between the longitude and latitude, a split opened up and it beached remotely here. No matter how hard I correlate, it remains a singularity, an alpha point in my life that refuses all hypothesis. I return each time leaving fresh markers that I hope, in the full glare of my hopelessness, will have blossomed into fresh insight in the interim.’
– Opening dialogue from Dear Esther (2012)
PUBLIC Gallery is pleased to present the group exhibition Our ashes make great fertilizer, curated by Saelia Aparicio and Harminder Judge.
Bringing together a range of works by artists they greatly admire, the exhibition presents ceremonial ceramics, shamanic brandishing sticks, plaster portals, biotech bodies, transcendental neons, mutated sleeping bags and shapeshifting paintings. The selected works all deal with ideas of transformation – such as metamorphosis, rebirth and decay – from the bodily to the spiritual, a subject that pervades and prevails within both their practices.
The title of the exhibition is taken from the indie video game Dear Esther, in which the protagonist finds themselves isolated amongst the wild beauty of the Outer Hebrides, unaware of how they arrived or what purpose the island has for them. Referencing the life of a hermit, Paul’s journey on the road to Damascus, and purgatory before ascension; the protagonist ventures deep into the beauty of the earth before re-emerging anew, climbing to the top of a tower, and jumping off to their death. As they fall however, the ground does not rush up to meet them, instead they transform into a bird and their journey continues.
Aparicio and Judge comment: ‘We hope that when you visit this show, and you look at the work you may also undertake a transformation, that you might become a bird and pass through this world and into another, that you may kiss the floor and cover your lips in soil and feel the oily imprint on your loose, dusty surface. We hope that you may become aware of your own mechanisms – the internal multitudes that gear and fire us into being – allowing you to channel that strain of bacteria that floats through your interior; a cave made of flesh and bone.’
Featured artists: Rebecca Ackroyd, Saelia Aparicio, Huma Bhabha, William Darrell, Shezad Dawood, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Mandy El-Sayegh, Harminder Judge, Temsüyanger Longkumer, Tian Mu, Alex Pain, Anousha Payne, Gulam Rasool Santosh, Tai Shani and Gray Wielebinski.