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JEREMY EVANS BOOK of NUMBERS

dalla Rosa Gallery 18 May - 22 June 2012


Artist Statement

Having once been told by a drawing tutor that if you only draw the outside you only get the outside, I decided to investigate this further. Using the idea that the more you are given the less you get I strip back the visual to its essential elements before inviting the viewer in to flesh out the work again. Working with lines, loops, layers, palindromes and the friction of contradiction I aim to create spaces to draw attention to how the viewer traffics with the world by filling, editing and narrating.   Working in video, drawing, performance and text-based work I use a process derived from phenomenological reduction, that of bracketing.  For example examining how language can limit or structure a world, or using palindromic structures to examine the nature of time.   As “the eye makes the horizon” so it is that frameworks such as beliefs, language, borders, and identities create and maintain the way that we traffic with the world, mediating our relationships with things. Some of these frameworks are made by the self, some created by society, history and culture. It is these frameworks that I examine in the belief that even if we cannot understand the structures themselves, the process of examination will reveal something of how we create and apply them.   “Contrary to what phenomenology - which is always phenomenology of perception - has tried to make us believe, contrary to what our desire cannot fail to be tempted into believing, the thing itself always escapes.” (Jacques Derrida, Speech and Phenomena). I believe two things, one that we don’t actually operate as if the thing itself always escapes, and secondly that even if the thing itself always does escape, you should never stop looking. (Jeremy Evans 2012)

opposite: Jeremy Evans, Our Boundaries Have No Limits (detail) 2011


Jeremy Evans, Sometimes, Things Work Out (work in progress) 2012


Interview with Jeremy Evans   So, why title your exhibition ‘Book of Numbers’?   I was reading about how search engines and social networking sites use our activity to customise the content that each of us sees when we next visit a page or make a search. It led me to think about all the forms of structures, visible and invisible, natural and man-made, which affect and control our lives. Which in turn got me thinking back to what might be a more fundamental example of how a society becomes structured. ‘Book of Numbers’ is a reference to the book in The Old Testament where the Israelites are wandering in the wilderness. It’s the point where God tells Moses how people are supposed to behave. It’s also the point where that society is first measured – by counting the individuals and measurement is also a form of structure and control.   There are strong connections with landscape within your work, what’s your interest there?   There are different elements to that. I have been drawing horizon lines for some time, which partly relates to an interest in minimalism – both the idea of a lot being encapsulated into a little and also the idea that if we’re given a certain amount, but not too much, then we’ll fill in the rest for ourselves, and often in a way that reinforces our existing way of thinking. So those works are about making people aware of that process.   A horizon line is also a man-made construct, the world slopes away and the sky follows it, and because we can’t see round the slope it creates the illusion of a line. One might perceive that either as the point, beyond which, there is a world or as the point at which the world ends. By presenting just the horizon line all perspective is lost, you don’t know what’s big and what’s small, what’s near and what‘s far away. The horizon line in the drawing ‘Either With Or’ is also fallacious in another way because it’s formed from all the national borderlines from a world map.   ‘Sometimes Things Work Out’ is also about the process of how we look. It’s a horizon line, drawn from a particular point, on to the inside of the gallery window. While drawing it it’s almost impossible to match up what’s at the end of your hand with the line that you’re trying to draw; my hand is an arm’s length away from my eyes, whereas the line I’m trying to draw is probably 100 yards away. Do I focus on the hand or the horizon, the left eye or the right eye? These decision-making processes that I’ve gone through to make that line are similar to the processes that the viewer will go through when looking at it. To some extent I think that how we receive art is analogous to our reception of information in the wider world. We see the bits that we want to see and don’t see the bits that we don’t want to see.


Jeremy Evans, The Colour Wheel 1-12, 2012


‘Landscapes for the Common Man 1-3’ is a representation of landscape that relates more directly to how we traffic with the world. The horizon lines in these landscapes are formed from graphs based on statistics about news topics that pollsters consistently say are the main concerns for the average voter – health, the economy and pensions. Language is another key structure here. The term ‘average’ is used all the time but it’s also a nonsense. An average of 50 can be obtained both from two people who each give an answer of 50 and from two people – one who gives an answer of one and one who gives an answer of 101.

There’s also a sense of how we physically position ourselves within a place or landscape…   It’s our natural inclination to try and position ourselves in relation to what’s around us. ‘Our Boundaries Have No Limits’ is based on a familiar form of map. The information given is only partial, yet it doesn’t prevent us from searching for something we recognise or that we can connect ourselves to.   How do all these ideas come together in a work like ‘The Colour Wheel 1-12’?   A colour wheel is an example of an accepted system of describing how colour works, based on the splitting of light through a prism. But it’s limited because it’s only based on the colours that we’re physically able to see. We don’t know what colours might be missing to us. ‘The Colour Wheel 1-12’? includes a dozen statements, from a variety of sources, each of which contains the word average. In the context of each statement the word ‘average’ has its own sense. Yet the statements don’t appear to make any sense together. So in one way it’s an average use of the word average, allied to a constructed system of measurement.   I’m intrigued by your left hand drawings, they have a different quality to your other works…   I’m interested in the physicality of the art-making process. I’m quite heavily righthanded but when I injured my right hand and had to draw with my left it made me aware of the process of having to apply my knowledge of drawing using a tool that can only function in an amateur way, my untrained left hand. ‘My Left Hand wants to buy me a House’ is an ongoing series of primarily text-based drawings that explore that idea. It’s about a mismatch between a level of knowledge and a level of execution, how that same knowledge comes out completely differently, depending on which side of my body I use.   You also use another language structure – the palindrome…   That comes from a curiosity about how narrative and time operate in relation to how


we structure our worlds. There’s an interesting quote by the philosopher Paul Ricoeur, who said something like – narrative is time made human. One of the first things that interested me in terms of man-made structures was time, and the debate over whether time exists as part of the fabric of the universe or is just something we’ve made up, for measuring purposes. In the last few years I’ve introduced more narrative into my work, both in drawings and videos. ‘I Wouldn’t Start From Here’ is a narrative palindromic video. The title phrase is based on a line from an old joke, which has its own internal logic. A palindrome is different to, and more interesting than, a loop because whereas a loop is the same sequence repeated in time, with a palindrome time moves forwards but like the narrator in the video, you’re taken back to where you started via a path that has its own internal logic.  

Are you also exploring the nature of time in ‘Experiment 1 Controlled Environment’?   That’s more about an attempt by me to control something – in the video I’m trying to recreate a scientific experiment that concluded that the average time spent upright for a small spinning top was 2’: 15”. I was testing my ability to create a controlled environment, which I failed to do. I also got nowhere near the average time, so I was also questioning the information that I was basing my experiment on. A lot of current science deals with things that we can’t see, so if we accept scientists’ findings, we have to employ an element of faith, or trust. It’s really about the question – How do we know what we know?    I’m wondering why you have included ‘1000 Grains of Sand’, which is an earlier work, in this exhibition?   I think because it encapsulates quite a lot of the ideas that the other works are based on. It involves a physical process and an element of time and there is the question of whether there are actually 1000 grains of sand in there.    

And are there?   You’ll have to decide whether you want to trust me on that.  

Interview by Helen Sumpter London, May 2012


Jeremy Evans, still from Experiment 1 Controlled Environment, 2012


Curriculum Vitae Education BA Fine Art; Chelsea College of Art Graduated 2007 First Class with Honours Solo Shows Gooden Gallery One night Stand First Thursday 2010 Transition Gallery (shop space) 2009 Open selections Lines of Desire Oriel Davies Gallery Newtown Wales 2010 Visions in the Nunnery Bow Arts Trust London 2010 new contemporaries Liverpool A Foundation; and London La Rochelle 2008 Material Intelligence Trinity Buoy Wharf & Keith Talent Gallery 2007 Future Film Camden Arts Centre 2005 Showcase of new films from most promising undergraduates Screenings Insolvent Fates Dickens Museum London 2010 Lexi Cinema Screening London 2009 Willesden Gallery London 2008 Group shows The Two Paths, Art Projects - London Art Fair 2012 ING Discerning Eye 2011 (invited by Ossian Ward) Common Distrust National School for the Arts Mexico City 2011  Pulp Fictions,Transition Gallery, London 2011 Minimum: after minimalism Intervention Gallery London 2011 Textures of Time Frederick Parker Gallery London 2011 4 x 6 Galerie Lorenz Frankfurt 2010 Beyond the Dustheaps Charles Dickens Museum London 2010 Preambles and Perambulations Charles Dickens Museum London 2010 Reflection Curzon Cinema London 2005 Publications Lines of Desire catalogue 2010 new contemporaries catalogue 2008

opposite: Jeremy Evans, still from I Wouldn’t Start From Here, 2012


Š 2012 Jeremy Evans & dalla Rosa Gallery, all rights reserved.


Jeremy Evans: Book of Numbers