Cerith Wyn Evans
Work exhibited: Time here becomes space / Space here becomes time.
The work of Cerith Wyn Evans is an expanding oeuvre that has the character of a constellation, a restless and changing configuration of lightworks – neon, chandeliers, fireworks, searchlights – that looks different when viewed at different times, or, as with the astronomical effect of parallax, when the position of the observer has changed.
This is partly because they are also a constellation of texts, an extraordinary concatenation of citations from a range of discourses that have reflected the formation of the subject during the course of 20th and 21st century cultural history. Many of Wyn Evans’s favourite sources – Burroughs, Gysin, Ballard, Bataille, Klossowski – have themselves changed position in terms of their cultural authority over the last half century, moving between periphery and centre, growing in influence as the volume of citations increases.
Wyn Evans provides a spectacular focus for the awareness of the material presence of language in western culture by giving a selection of seminal ideas – or rather, phrases that resemble ideas – the status of objects. His is the art of a time in which art history has experienced a magnetic declination towards critical theory, to an extent that has redefined the field, incorporating critical activity into art practice.
His porousness to the words of others turns his art into a staging of intertextuality, in which his own role appears to be transformed into that of a medium for those textual messages that are the most unsettling and most irreducible, whose meanings are both insinuating and elusive, at once irresistible and resistant to straightforward translation. In this, his attitude towards writing and reading seems to follow Burroughs in recognising the subversive capacity of language to behave like a virus, corrupting existing forms of order and value.
His frequent deployment of palindromes and mirror texts, as with Time here becomes space / Space here becomes time, implies both formally and semantically the independent power that language has to construct a reality of its own to rival existing versions.