with Emily Butler
‘This project started as a way to record this quite overwhelming time, through collecting, even hoarding, newspapers from the earliest stages of the pandemic. I was able to pick up some of the plates that were used for printing which act as a kind of an indexical object from this time.’
Listen to the full interview here:
I’m Eloise Hawser. I’m an artist working across media, sculpture, film and digital technologies and I am interested in considering the role that infrastructure plays in mediating our everyday lives. In 2019, I worked on a project about the UK household waste cycle, visiting several sites which treat and process our waste in different ways.
I’m currently working on a new project, which is about waste cycles, as they pertain to news media. I’m especially interested in the physical material affective aspects of media. This is no more pronounced than in the printing of newspapers, which is a process which generates huge amounts of metal waste, as well as, of course, paper waste and some chemical waste.
In creating this work, I’ve been visiting sites which are recycling primarily metal plates, which are a part of printing newspapers. Public participation is an important part of my work.
What are you showing in The London Open 2022?
I’m showing new works that form part of the PressTracker Project Archive (2019–ongoing). It brings together gov.uk stats and front-page news through an online website, and the progress of the pandemic is mapped against daily front-page news stories from UK titles. This project also incorporates sculptures made from waste materials from the news industry, which are lithographic plates and newsprint itself.
This project started as a way to record this quite overwhelming time, through collecting, even hoarding, newspapers from the earliest stages of the pandemic. I then visited the recycling sites, where I was able to pick up some of the plates that were used for printing the same newspapers that I have in my collection. By being printed on that day, they act as a kind of an indexical object from this time.
Very early in the pandemic I was seeing all these newspapers in unexpected places. So, I would go say, to the newsagent to buy something. And the vegetable box would be lined with newspaper, and it would be already completely out of step with the situation, the news. I realised that, in a climate where news is so rapidly mutating, the hard-copy newspapers are almost archival.
The sculptures in the show track this very physical journey from breaking news to yesterday’s news. From the making of headlines to the waste by-produced from this industry. The online Press Tracker shows the flipside, the news. There’s also physicality to the headlines, which is very different to the way that we encounter the news through our scroll-down online providers. Can you tell us about how you see these elements complementing each other?
The physical plates are actually inked-up plates that print the first copy. They are printed one minute before the paper copy. So, you are looking at the very idea of breaking news made tangible. I forage them or extract them from these mountains of litho plates, which are delivered to be melted down into aluminium ingots.
In the early days of the pandemic, it was hard to do much physically. It felt like a very static moment being at home, if obviously you were lucky not to have to be in the hospital. And I was just refreshing these statistics all the time. The statistics felt embodied, in a way.
Living in London there is quite easy access to newspapers. Newspapers are widely distributed and you can see their waste across tube carriages and across the city. What’s the significance this work within The London Open in the context of this city?
This is very much a work about local networks and the newspapers. My studio at Somerset House has been very close to the former news production headquarters in Fleet Street. It’s a history that I’ve been very interested in and researched. But I think that the material that I have collected for this show comes directly from London, from my time here during the lockdown. All of the sources that the material comes from are very local.
There’s something about papers… the circulation of material and stories and content in a city – that is what I am responding to here. Even outside tube stations, you often see these cast-aside trolleys from the Daily Mail. It was that sense of this material practice or process, that was still ongoing, even though we’re saturated with digital news; and all the physical contingencies that are local and London-based, that produce newspapers, disseminate them, recycle them.
‘The PressTracker Project Archive is a collection of newspapers and printing plates collected throughout the Pandemic. Each piece is part of an archive of found objects, presented in the same state that they were discarded after printing. The printing plates have been loaned by a London metal recycler and I foraged for them during the Pandemic.’
Visit the PressTracker Project Archive here
Works in the exhibition:
“Keep Out!” SN.16 Jan., 2022
One year of newspapers collected during 2020–21 lockdown from March 2020 – March 2021, steel doorframe
206.4 x 96.8 x 31.4 cm
“To speak now about football is impossible” SN. 09Dec. 08/12/ 21 00:11:37, 2022
Found Aluminium Afga CP09 newspaper printing plates from 16 January 2021 – 25 January 2022, front covers selected UK newspapers from 16 January 2021 – 30 January 2022, rods, steel racking
90.8 x 130.5 x 90.8 cm
“‘Uncontrollable’ variant” TT. 03Jun. 03:06:21 00:09:21, 2022
Found Aluminium Afga CP09 newspaper printing plates from June 2020 – 25 January 2022, rods, steel racking
190 x 100 x 70.3 cm
With the support of Knotenpunkt and using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England
Eloise Hawser (b. 1985, London, UK)
2012 Staatliche Hochschule fur Bildende Kunste, Stadelschule, Frankfurt
2007 B.F.A., Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford
Selected exhibitions: Territories of Waste, Museum Tinguely, Basel (2022); 16th Istanbul Biennial: The Seventh Continent, Istanbul (2019); By the Deep, By the Mark, Somerset House, London (2018); GOOD GRIEF, CHARLIE BROWN!, Somerset House, London (2018); Eloise Hawser & Kathi Hofer, Mumok, Vienna (2016); The Weight of Data, Tate Britain, London (2016); Eloise Hawser and Sol Lewitt, Vistamare, Pescara (2015); Lives on Wire, ICA, London (2015)
What makes London’s art scene so vibrant? What are the concerns of the next generation of artists? What insight does their work offer in challenging times?
This triennial exhibition showcases a cross-section of the most dynamic artistic talent from across the capital. Established in 1932, this much-celebrated open submission show features 46 London-based artists working across painting, sculpture, moving image, installation and performance.
Since the last London Open in 2018, the city has experienced the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, demonstrations demanding racial and climate justice, and widespread questioning of institutions and their structures.
The London Open 2022 traces the ways in which artists have witnessed and responded to these events with resilience and heart. In times of hardship and crisis, and when exhibitions were cancelled and moved online, these artists experimented with new sites of production and means of dissemination, from the kitchen table to the back garden.
The exhibition is loosely structured as a journey from the personal to the social, moving from individual to collective concerns, the cathartic to the poetic, the political and the environmental.
The artists were selected from over 2,600 entries by a panel of experts including collector Maria Bukhtoyarova, artist Shezad Dawood, curator and art historian Christine Eyene, gallerist Stephan Tanbin Sastrawidjaja, with Whitechapel Gallery curators Emily Butler, lnês Costa and Wells Fray-Smith.
Gallery 1, Downstairs
The relationship between our bodies and the material world kickstarts the exhibition. Rafał Zajko‘s wall-based reliefs appear like hybrid beings, processing the gluten found in wheat and barley flour, leaving us unsure if this is for machine or human consumption.Likewise, Madeleine Pledge‘s stretched fabrics and ceramic boots imply absent bodies and their physical role in manufacturing.
Materiality and belief systems intersect in Candida Powell-Williams’ handmade objects. A unicorn and swing inspired by medieval tapestries are fenced off by a trellis, prompting questions about the divisions between what is mythical and real. Alicia Reyes McNamara‘s paintings feature non-binary, shapeshifting figures drawn from various mythologies, from Meso-America to Ancient Egypt, to consider alternative notions of time and embodiment.
Gallery 9, Upstairs
This gallery features works that delve into the impact of technology, algorithms and quantification on our lives. In his series The Spectre of a World Which Could Be Free 2019, Ben Yau looks at the parallel rise of Neoliberalism and the CIA’s role in sabotaging the socialist government of Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973, bringing together both economic data and declassified documents.
Set in a parallel present reminiscent of sci-fi films such as Blade Runner 2049, The Underlying by Ami Clarke considers the implicit role of capitalism in environmental disaster.
Meanwhile, Rory Cahill and George Mackness offer a walk through a dystopian, corrupted digital landscape of the future, with an immersive soundtrack. They consider: what does a digital wasteland look like, what happens there and what is its afterlife?
Gallery 8, Upstairs
The artworks in this gallery reflect on family, identity and community. Seema Khalique travelled to Bangladesh to photograph two communities of transgender people called hijras. In this behind-the-scenes series, she questions the prejudices they face, revealing the economic hardships they endure alongside the strong network of mentorship and care they create.
Pioneering photographer, curator and writer Sunil Gupta took photographs of his neighbourhood on Walworth Road during lockdown. This work celebrates the increased relevance of our localities during the pandemic, as well as reflecting on the processes involved in created photographic images.
On three vintage TV monitors, Hussina Raja‘s short narrative films look at the subject of migration to the UK from post-Partition India, tracing the continued experiences of displacement and exploring nuanced notions of identity.
The works in the last part of the show focus on our relationship to and impact on the environment. In Agrilogistics (2022), Gerard Ortin Castellvi films in an automated greenhouse, in which the growth of tomatoes, tulips and chrysanthemums is controlled by cameras and sensors, in order to question the future of food production.
Having spent lockdown excavating her back garden, Maria Roy Deulofeu meticulously records each layer of soil like an archaeologist, collecting artefacts and ecofacts, before assembling a kiln to fire hand-thrown urns with the different layers of clay. The process is recorded in a video shown alongside the objects. Finally, a flock of parakeets cast in lead are scattered on the ground in Patrick Goddard‘s Blue Sky Thinking (2019).The parakeet exemplifies a non-native species increasingly common in London parks and hints at a mass extinction event, highlighting mankind’s role in the impending climate disaster.
See the full list of works here.
An illustrated catalogue is available to purchase from the bookshop.
Artists have generously made limited editions to coincide with the exhibition to support the Gallery’s education programme.