Archive: Issue No. 76, December 2003

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Paul Edmunds

Paul Edmunds

Paul Edmunds
Sieve (details), 2003
plastic mesh, cable ties
1200 x 1000 x 1000mm

Paul Edmunds

Installation view

Paul Edmunds

Sponge (detail)

Cloud, a wondrous phenomenon of transporting magnitude
by Andrew Lamprecht

'Cloud' is not nebulous. That last word indicates something that is hazy, confused, difficult to grasp and bewildered. It is not a word I would use to describe Paul Edmunds's show. If I was going to seek a cloudy word to describe it then it would have to be of another variety: anthelionic. Anthelia, the optical phenomenon of images of a halo or bright ring of light that surrounds the head of a person when their shadow is cast onto a cloud bank opposite the sun at high altitudes, seems perfect here. (Incidentally, it is widely believed that the anthelion is the origin of the tradition of painting a halo around the head of saints in Western art.) Here, if we stand still, and allow ourselves to be reflected in this work, we will, I think, be similarly rewarded with a rare and wondrous phenomenon of transporting magnitude.

Screwed directly onto the wall of the exhibition space is an elegant, somewhat overly lengthened brass door handle. It has been worked a bit with power tools by the look of it. Entitled Heel it is perhaps the most enigmatic piece in this exhibition. We are encouraged to try and open the door, to slide it across, but there is no movement. Is heel a command, as to a dog? Heel entices but is resolute in its silence.

More or less centrally placed is Sponge, a large, elaborate blanket of galvanised wire mesh draped from a central raised point and flowing onto the floor. Reminiscent of an oncoming gathering of vapour or smoke, it is at once uplifting and slightly sinister with its evocation of chain-metal armour and fencing.

Nearby we encounter Sieve, an incredible construction made up of what seem like an unending array of pieces of white polypropylene plastic mesh that are locked together with white plastic cable ties to make a form that suggests the title of the show. This is a fascinating work, taking up about a metre of cubic space. Like the sieve that the title refers to, it is an object whose utility as an art object is dependent upon its form being suggested as much by what is not there as what is.

I like the air in sieve: it gives space to contemplate. This is clearly what Edmunds is interested in here. In the wall text we learn that: "Like a cloud, as the exhibition's title implies, the work might suggest an interpretation, but at the same time may obscure a clear view". The balance between there and not there is integral (but my judgement may be clouded, or even worse, nebulous...).

In Weft (my personal favourite) Edmunds has moved from three-dimensional sculpture to videography. This work, a looped DVD, shows a mirrored scene from Bruce Brown's movie The Endless Summer. This is a 1960s cult surf movie about the ongoing search to find the perfect wave to ride. The looped image of a surfer on just such a wave, split-screen in a perfect, unending dialogue, is a wonderful and evocative mantra with which to focus on the rest of the exhibition.

Two prints, The same but different I and Peaks and Troughs are also on display. The first mentioned, a silkscreen in brownish ink made up of a single line that traces a terrain of space, complements the exhibition very well. Peaks and Troughs shows a geometric construction made from angular elements that overlap. I can see a link to the rest of the exhibition in these works but they still seem a little out of place; it was a wise idea to display them in a cubicle away from the rest of the exhibition.

I found 'Cloud' a truly transporting exhibition. Not long after the opening I was flying to Johannesburg over an endless field of candyfloss clouds, so brilliantly lit that the view hurt my eyes. Edmunds came to mind: his singular white plastic construction, with its potential to invoke the infinite and the endless repetition of Sponge, with its possibility of losing oneself in one's own blanket of dreams. Weft is that dream made real: I tugged and tugged on Heel, trying to open the door but to no avail.

November 4 - 29