The Breeder is pleased to present Zoë Paul’s first solo exhibition with the gallery Solitude and Village. Zoë Paul’s project is a genealogy of domestic objects, that disrupts common perceptions of both archaeological and contemporary artifacts, symbolism and bodies. Solitude and Village is an amalgamation of objects that bleed into one another, transgressing historical moments and place, to unravel the buried histories hidden in their shadows.
Solitude sits calmly and yet uncomfortably beside village. The latter is both conducive to and preventative of the state of being alone. To savour ones solitude is to be concentrated with the self. It is not a lonely condition but a state of mind and body with its own intention. Every figure rests in its own solitude, a nodal point in the geometrical order of things that the self inhabits. In a state of meditation and self appointed recluse, solitude offers fleeting moments of calm, a time to reflect and conjure the solitude of the self and the world around it.
Yet solitude cannot exist without its counterpart. We carry our architectures around like snails, like ants to their milking aphids we conjure sociality. Every self creates its village, cobbled together through the bombardment of social interactions and temporal geographies between humans and nonhumans solitude slips. Debt is the Social condition, the basis of every interaction, the assessment of hierarchies of judgement and no thing is exempt, we are all the culprits and the perpetrators of each horrific act. Solitude is a transient focus on the construction of imagined villages.
The village is a place of baroque growth and broken extensions. Its bucolic scenes sit aside the whore house; relegated to the margins, the unspeakable commodification of fertility. Amongst this we try to maintain our elegance, to deny our disgust as scavengers and violators, and finally we place high our broken warriors and whorish traders.
Seven semi fired clay heads sit atop tiled counters, with forms that resemble modernist architectural models, delineating the space. Each in their own solitude the heads are without place or time, they have no reference yet are instantly familiar, filled with the weight of village history.
They are the warriors, the debt collectors, the whore house goers. Illuminated from below, white LED lights mirror the geometric mud and whitewashed mural, their patterns speaking an ancient language refigured as modern. Both engage in a transhistorical collective consciousness of geometric mark making, a magnificent ritual connecting the unconscious wisdom of the body to the cosmos at large. Precursor and post to any codified alphabet but comprehensible all the same through. Threads of goat hair are woven between the rusted iron bars of industrial refrigeration grills, discarded debris of modernity’s push for progress, to conquer heat and rotting flesh. The fridge wildly changed the village, meat no longer shared but kept in solitude. The colours blur and glitch, the modern and the ancient meet, zeros and ones, goat hairs and ancient weavings.
Downstairs is a space of unlicensed transgression, no longer heads on plinths and neatly codified grids, but fully formed female figures. Body parts crossing and out of sync. The images are constructed out of hand rolled ceramic beads; pixelated, they resemble abacuses and screens. Their gaze is beyond the viewer, their form again is indefinable and locatable nowhere.
A broken kitchen sink – that object of domestic sanitation that functions to take away the dirt and abject matter from inside and bury deep somewhere, no one knows – is present, breathing from its drain plumes of mist with a golden coin in its basin. An everyday object to be sure, the tiny sculpted disc that overflows with heaped significance, delicately covers with each exchange the silhouette and pulsations of social relations, power, violence, fertility, mobility and indebtedness.
One side of this coin reads ΖωΗ/Πωλ, replacing the Christian cross Φως/ΖωΗ (Light of Life) with the artist’s own name, while the gaping omega ‘ω’ on the reverse points to the abundant and erotic dimensions of money.
And gold, that colour of nobility, honour and joy, also has its a seamy underside seething with danger, prohibition, secrecy, and hidden histories. The desire it stimulates is boundless, reeking of danger that needs to be hemmed in by a firewall of fairy tales and superstition. Gold is shit, Freud once said with reference to the gold offered by the devil that turns out to be monumentally self-destructive, in many fables from around the world. The world delights in opposites. Gold sits in the sink abject and yet utterly desired.
The further one descends on the scale of ordinary things the more obviously does ones way of viewing things approach the mystical.
Zoë Paul (b.1987, London) grew up between the Greek island of Kithira and Oxford, having South African origins. She now lives and works in Athens. After finishing her undergraduate at Camberwell college of art, she completed her MA in Sculpture at the Royal College of Art, London. Recent group shows include Unorthodox at the Jewish Museum, New York, curated by Jens Hoffman and Kelly Taxter; Equilibrists organized by the New Museum, New York and the DESTE Foundation, Athens in collaboration at the Benaki Museum, Athens, curated by Gary Carrion-Murayari and Helga Christoffersen with Massimiliano Gioni.
-Oska Paul, Μay 2016