press release

Fiona Crisp. Material Sight
24.03.2018 - 13.05.2018

Material Sight, a new exhibition by Fiona Crisp, commissioned by Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art and Arts Catalyst, invites us into an embodied relationship with the spaces of fundamental science.

On March 24, Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art (NGCA) reopens with this major new body of work by Crisp, welcoming visitors into its new home, located within the National Glass Centre in Sunderland.

Crisp explores how we might encounter spaces where the frontiers of knowledge are being expanded. Material Sight is a new, large-scale commission that uses photography, moving image and sound to approach the material environments where experiments that challenge the limits of our imagination are carried out. For nearly two years, Crisp has worked with three world-leading research facilities for "fundamental science": Boulby Underground Laboratory, sited in the UK’s deepest working mine, Durham University's Institute for Computational Cosmology, and Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso, the world’s largest underground laboratory for particle physics, housed inside a mountain in central Italy.

Across all these sites, knowledge is pursued at scales and distances beyond our human sensing, from the macroscale of the multiverse to the microscale of the subatomic world. Crisp explores how we might encounter this sensory remoteness by being placed into a physical, tangible relation to the spaces and laboratories where the science is performed. To this end, she builds a landscape of image and sound, augmenting the gallery architecture with scaffolding walls that support a cycle of photographs and moving image works.

Material Sight places us in a physical relation to the extraordinary endeavour of fundamental science, where knowledge is pursued at the furthest reaches of our human imagination.

To accompany the exhibition at NGCA, KOSMICA: Ethereal Things, a weekend exploring our intimate human connection with particle physics and the physics of the universe, takes place on April 14 and 15. Attendees will experience impossible situations, encounter the mysterious realm of subatomic physics, and unravel the cosmic web through experiments, performances, music and poetics.

To coincide with the exhibition in London, Arts Catalyst will publish a new book The Live Creature and Ethereal Things: Physics in Culture, edited by Fiona Crisp and Nicola Triscott.

Fiona Crisp is an artist known for creating installations of large-scale photographs that question the presence of the photographic object as an unstable and deeply equivocal phenomenon. Her projects have been created by spending intensive periods of time in particular locations. Previous projects have included working in the Early Christian catacombs of Rome, and in a Second World War underground military hospital. Crisp studied at the Slade School of Fine Art and has exhibited both nationally and internationally. Her work is held by several national collections of contemporary art, including Tate, the British Council, Arts Council and Government Art Collection. She is represented by Matt’s Gallery, London.

Following a capital redevelopment project in 2017, Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art reopens a new 3200sq/ft, 5m high exhibition gallery at National Glass Centre, part of the University of Sunderland. NGCA celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2019 having been one of the very first contemporary art galleries in Britain. It has provided major international figures with their first UK exhibitions, including Harun Farocki (Germany) and Cory Arcangel (USA), and shown work by 14 Turner Prize nominees.

Arts Catalyst is a contemporary art organisation focused on cross-disciplinary art and inquiry. It commissions and produces projects, artworks and exhibitions that connect with other fields of knowledge, expanding artistic practice into domains associated with science and specialist research. Arts Catalyst has commissioned more than 150 artists’ projects, including major new works by Tomás Saraceno, Aleksandra Mir, Ashok Sukumaran, Otolith Group, and Critical Art Ensemble.

Arts Catalyst Centre for Art, Science & Technology, London, WC1H 8DR June 7–July 14, 2018