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13 February 2004 —
07 March 2004

Ruth Sumner:
Witness Marks

Artist’s statement -

Witness Marks employs notions of edition and illumination with reference to clinical or scientific trials associated with the human body and desires for contained stereotypic normality.

It is through the process and discipline of print - back grounded in expectations of multiplicity - that I have been able to include a random element in the project. Printmaking techniques have allowed me to control the process, while letting go of part of the final outcome.

I have employed light boxes to display four collections of glass slides. These light boxes are reminiscent of those commonly found in museums and serve to cue the enquirer on several levels. On first approach they appear to be an edition, reinforced by the repetition of the doily pattern etched on the viewing surface of all four boxes. Power is delivered to light boxes through a taught white ‘cross’ of electrical cable.

A rack in each box holds a series of nine slides, the bottom of which is translucent and allows light through so that each set glows with colour. Laid out in this way the slides are evocative of something quite clinical and scientific and invite the viewer to examine them more closely. On inspection it becomes clearer that the slides are not an edition but are in fact a series of similar but different works. Each series is etched with a collection of nine parts of a single image and forms a random segmented narrative. Different parts of each slide are revealed dependent on where they are seen from: the viewer controlling how much she/he sees.

The identical squares of glass are ground and polished on the edges then paint ‘sandwiched’ between them. These hermetically sealed smears are roughly circular and appear organics, perhaps a cross section through a brain, or cells caught in meiosis. The circle is a deliberate reference to wholeness and completeness and the decay of the circle in these smears references the decay that is inherent within the circle/cycle of life.

An initial perception of edition is thus transformed into a series or programme of trials reflecting the bodies’ individuality within a domestic desire for a stereotypic norm.


→ Ruth Sumner: Witness Marks, 2004, exhibition card

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