“As a butterfly folded in a caterpillar that will soon unfold” at NıCOLETTı, London
As a butterfly folded in a caterpillar that will soon unfold is a group exhibition that explores contemporary manifestations of the fold in sculpture, painting and photography, including works by Gabriele Beveridge, Javier Chozas, Dorian Gaudin, Lydia Gifford, Charlie Godet-Thomas, Felix Kiessling, Sonia Kacem, Alicja Kwade, Marianne Spurr and Sara VanDerBeek.
To fold consists in bending something flexible over on itself so that one part of it covers another. Folding a white sheet of paper lying on a desk, for instance, produces lines or creases, which are themselves referred to as folds. The fold generates material and spatial distortions: in the process of being folded the sheet of paper remains exactly the same in terms of its material composition, yet the dimensions of the space it embeds increases at precisely the same time the space it occupies on the desk decreases. As the work of the philosopher and theorist of form Angelika Seppi demonstrates, the folded sheet of paper ‘not only preserves some of its main features, it also stores the potential energy of the process of transformation it underwent’; it undergoes a temporal transformation, revealing itself ‘as its own present and past.’ This is not the only revelation of the folded piece of paper, however. The fold ‘reveals other aspects, invisible up until folded, its bottom surface, for example, or flexibility, while repressing others, its former top surface, for example, or its full extension.’ As such, the fold neither reveals nor conceals what has already been folded; rather, it both reveals and conceals. ‘The folded sheet of paper’, Seppi continues, ‘operates neither as a plus, nor as a minus, neither as an addition, nor as a subtraction from the flat sheet of paper; rather it is, at the very same time, both a plus and a minus, an addition and a subtraction. It is neither different from what is, nor the same; rather, it is at the very same instance different and the same.’
The exhibition takes the example of the folded sheet of paper to consider the variations and modulations of textures, forms, and space-time stemming from the implementation of the fold in artistic practices – whether as a process, a gesture, or a motif. From the material manifestation of the fold in the twists, turns and wrinkles generated by processes of folding-unfolding-refolding industrial materials to the representation of organic folds in the form of fossils inlaid in the pleats of stratified matter, the artists presented here explore the interplay that the fold enables between usually polarised notions of visible/invisible; absence/presence; inside/outside; form/matter; identity/difference. The fold will be shown to act in contradistinction to the exactness of the straight line and perpendicular forms, which endorses a rationalised conception of space and, metaphorically speaking, of the rectitude of the soul. The infinite variability of the fold promotes an aesthetic which loosens structures of seeing, perceiving and understanding; it embraces uncertainty and the undecidable nature of the language of forms – suggestive of a mutual expression or entr’expression between matter and form, between the sensual and the intelligible, between what is and what will become.
As such, the title of the exhibition, which derives from Gilles Deleuze’s book The Fold: Leibniz and the Baroque (1988), refers to this inherent duplicity of the fold, which endlessly unfolds one of its extremities while refolding the other, ‘in a coextensive veiling-unveiling of Being, of presence and of withdrawal of being.’ More than a figure of transition flowing between presence and absence, appearance and withdrawal, the fold conjures the simultaneity of their occurrence, as well as the heterogeneity and heteromorphism of forms, motifs and living beings, just as a butterfly folded in a caterpillar that will soon unfold.
At NıCOLETTı, London
Until 22 June 2019