Graham Gussin (b. 1960) is renowned for using diverse media, including text, photography, drawing, film and installation, to explore perceptions of time and space. The exhibition at the New Art Centre comprises new and recent works. We spoke to the artist to ahead of the exhibition opening to find out more.
BR: You speak about a myriad of influences, in particular the sublime as exemplified in the paintings of Caspar David Friedrich. What is your vision of the sublime?
GG: I don’t have one. I’m interested in it’s possible complexities and mutations.
BR: This idea of the “trace” appears as a central motif in your work (the gin and perfume in Intoxicated Landscape, the infinity symbol). When did you first become interested in this idea of a latent presence, a sort of invisible hand if you will?
GG: I suppose I became more interested in this when I curated a show called Nothing in 2000. I was looking at a lot of dematerialised works around that time and this informed my practice and resulted in me making some works which i may not have otherwise made. That is, if I had not thought about Nothing for two years. I hadn’t thought directly about the notion of trace when putting this show together, it really came up more when I titled one of the works with that word.’ ∞ trace’ is the motion of my hand across a keyboard, repeating the shape of an infinity sign, it’s just the name for the action in that case, the way you might trace that sign on someone or something. The trace is somewhat territorial in both Night Street Touch and Intoxicated Landscape, marking space and time through an action or material. It’s not wistful or to do with memory, it’s full of direct intention though it results in something hard to fix.
BR: As part of your exhibition at the New Art Centre, you will be showing a series of specially commissioned photographs taken in the grounds of Roche Court. How do these works respond to the environment and the space?
GG: This is a new work and I’m thinking it could be made in a number of different ways with a number of different materials. I was interested in making a work for the landscape around Roche Court as there are many works placed within the grounds and I wanted to add to that without taking up space. I was thinking of Robert Barry’s Inert Gas series – the release of something into the atmosphere, and I was thinking of making that process evoke something quite different. I wanted to hint at the idea of something overcome, a momentary loss of perception in the landscape or even by the landscape and I wanted that to be only barely in evidence in the resulting photographs.
BR: Could you talk us through the other work you will be showing in the exhibition?
GG: I will be showing a new neon work which reads “unmade, undone” which I’m looking at right now in the studio. I’m pleased with this, it has a simple way of announcing an absence but it is also directing us to the idea of a process, something becoming unmade or undone, something unravelling if you like. It relates to a series of Neons I have made which declare or announce negatives, a neon sign usually designates the definite, these all designate the indefinite. There is also a large work on canvas titled Unresolved Material which is a kind of drawing as process and material work. It’s a repeating doodle across a large surface made with black ink – a kind of reflex to blank space. These take a long time to make, the marks being very dense in places, overall the image, if there is one, looks like some kind of terrain, its scale unknown. I’ll be showing a new object based piece titled In and Out, Back and Forth, the show takes it’s title from this, it is a 3D printed chromed sleeping mask, something associated with lack of light and absorbtion and rest becoming something hyper visual and somehow active, reflecting everything around it. The piece looks simultaneously futuristic but also presents itself as a relic, something fossilised or petrified.
BR: You’re showing at the Guangzhou Triennial later this year. Can you give us a sneak preview of the work you will be creating for the event?
GG: I will show a piece called Unseen Film. This has been made before at different venues. It consists of going to a cinema and buying all of the tickets for a single performance so that no one can attend that performance. I see the empty space as being a kind of sculpture, it being a place of non reception. There will be some other pieces also, the theme of the show is the “Unseen”, an idea that suits many works I’ve made.
Intoxicated landscape (2012)
Perfume and alcohol (50ml of la Fumee by Miller Harris and 300ml of London Dry Gin) dispersed into the landscape
Roche Court, 2012
Photographs: © the artist and New Art Centre, Roche Court Sculpture Park
Text: Bethany Rex