with Inês Costa
‘ I was interested in whether you could see patterns forming by studying newspapers that you see every day. It reminded me of the obsessed detective trope in crime dramas. I’m interested in how we receive news.’
Listen to the full interview here:
My name is Paula Morison. I am a conceptual artist. I don’t have a specific medium, I tend to use whatever seems to suit the idea best. A lot of my research is about how we as humans order the world around us, the systems we create and interact with on a daily basis, and how we exert percieved control over our existence.
What are you showing in The London Open 20222?
I’m showing two pieces, they’re both newspapers. Each contains four years’ worth of collected news stories. One is about wildfire, and one is about flooding. Overall, I collected nine years of Evening Standard and Metro newspapers. I saved all the apocalyptic articles in them, categorised them, and made them into newspapers. Wildfires was my first, and then flooding. There may be some more in the future.
In your practice, you use quite laborious processes, so collecting, measuring and categorising, to deconstruct and question structures that are hidden in plain sight. The newspaper is a testament to that. You collected the newspapers, archived them, deconstructed them, and created a new piece. Can you tell us a bit more about how ideas of labour form part of your practice?
I don’t always know why I pick these time-consuming ways of working. But I do it pretty consistently. I’m very interested in time in my practice, and I think labour is a common way of visualising or translating time. One of my interests is in how we spend our time. I guess it feeds into that a little bit as well. I also potentially, not on purpose, do it as a way of validating the work.
Why did you decide to collect these specific articles on flooding and fires? Why did you select these catastrophes?
I was interested in whether you could see patterns forming by studying newspapers that you see every day. It reminded me of the obsessed detective trope in crime dramas. I’m interested in how we receive news. These horrific events happening all over the world are obviously linked to climate change, but piecing that together and making it feel real is very hard when you’re seeing these things individually. By building up this collection, it shows how these things are all linked. By reading about it in the newspaper, it can make you feel removed from it, that you are not part of it. It’s like reading about the end of the world as it’s happening. Then you wonder what will break down first, the structure of the newspaper and the media and how it works, or something else. News being both informative and a distraction from things. Somewhere in between this is what I’m interested in with this project.
Works in the exhibition:
Flooding (30.04.14 – 27.03.18), 2021
Digitally-printed, 92 page newspaper newspaper containing four years’ worth of collected news stories about flooding
38 x 28.9 x 0.5 cm (each)
Wildfire (01.05.14 – 20.03.18), 2018
Digitally-printed, 72 page newspaper containing four years’ worth of collected news stories about wildfires
38 x 28.9 x 0.5 cm (each)
Paula Morison (1985, Swindon, UK)
2019 MFA Fine Art, Slade School of Fine Art, University College London
2008 BA Fine Art, University of Wales Institute, Cardiff
Selected exhibitions: Plymouth Contemporary, KARST and The Levinsky Gallery, The Arts Institute, Plymouth (2021); Nocturnal Creatures, Whitechapel Gallery, London (2021); Depictions of Living, The Art Pavilion, London (2020); Mapping the Discordant Blues,
A Room Upstairs Gallery, London (solo) (2020); Untitled, The Pole Gallery, Paris (solo) (2019); Bloomberg New Contemporaries, South London Gallery, London (2018)
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.