Dirt in the Eye, Gnossienne Gallery, London, UK (2024)

Dirt in the Eye
Curated by Sahand Nezamabad

Works by Tasneem Sarkez, Anna Clegg, Uccella Khan-Thomas, and Polly Plowden

Press Release

Text by Carl Gustaf Von Platen

In the room images look at each other. In this mimetic chamber, the everyday is reflected. Bouncing from on piece to another, blinking codes of mundanities are obscured. Whether through shadowy pencil-work or bricolage, frames of routine are stretched onto their own material boundaries. The microdot of the i darts between retina and primary visual cortex, vibrating somewhere between the symbolic and imaginary—these data of everyday scenes are dirtied at the cornea, mutating instead their banal prosaic into homonymic Prozac.

Like the wormlike floaters one can see when looking at a white wall—tucked into the corneas’ lubricated
movements— these unremarkable beings are always there but only noticed when paid attention to. And as we pull our focus onto these wiggles of information out of place—everything else becomes peripheral. The eye starts to see itself, as the eye sees itself in the dot of the i.

In Polly Plowden’s “Room”, a room unfolds from sheets of paper, sublimating and mobilising a routine spectacle of light. From another room with a window, a dark view of fiercely crashing waves is captured in Anna Clegg’s graphite mercurial drawings. In Tasneem Sarkez’s “A Lion’s Words” we are asked whether we are brave enough to tell the Lion that his breath stinks; and as we close in on this symbolic lion in text, the eye catches glimpses of itself in the polished metal.

Steganographic conspiracy may typically entertain us on how to look at these pieces, but punctuated
mundanity acts as a guardrail for us to lean on. Without being too caught up on decoding abstractions, we can float through a white cube designated for looking. We seek respite from the unremarkable existence of the i by building systems of routine. By occupying it as a witness, we make the gallery uncomfortable, ultimately becoming ourselves—specks of dirt in the eye.


Text by Ethan Price 

Fouling the nest. As usual. The wings rot and curl. Not just me this time, this time the radioactive roads, the humming circus — the cars, those bloody bleary lights, aerosol glow, and the sky the colour of orangeade. Standing as strong as though on all fours, with crutches even, bandages wrapped — but somehow the reality and the feeling never match. Sour little life. Bad wood warping under veneer. On these circular steps, swivel-eyed, so unbalanced I could be on a single digit. Eros above. And all that fuzzy signage, and the screens with their hyper-advertising. Young girls pushing buggies, crying into their enormous phones. Hot car bumpers, whimpering tiny oil deposits from their mechanical innards. Feeling like a bit of an exquisite, I down the last can from the six-pack plastic noose (always remember that we are always drinking). I lower myself, one, two, weeeeeeee, down the steps, round a bit, take in the view from other side, the other street, the other bit of whirrrrr. And then down a little more, the concrete wet, not glistening — pulpy. Down again. I pass through the muggy fabrics, the backs, the chests, the cheeks, the perfumes laden with sleep unslept, the volatile lips and exaggerated pupils. Ruinous mouths gaping, lusty palms outstretched. Eyes connect then disconnect. What do we find here? A man formed by television cliches and tabloid headlines. I read something: You are the inhabitant of a non-place, serviced every twelve miles or so by little homeopathic doses of the real world, called service stations. I am transfixed by the fumes issuing from the car arses, so I throw myself into the traffic, onto the lesioned tarmac and grab hold of an exhaust pipe. No one notices, no one sees it happen. The car bloke accelerates and I’m off — I’m a car parasite — black smoke licking my face, a new facial for the girls. Speed disfigures — me, them. But I’m going, gripping. Fast. I hear something I’ve heard before: I don’t get an erection for someone who wraps a twenty quid note round it. Eyelids quiver, burning off, I can’t see the face, but I know the voice. A boy called Whippet. He says it all the time, reckons it makes him fascinating. Nothing gets said that hasn’t been said before. And he always says it to the guy who’s about to do the wrapping. My chest is mince, blood and black, but no point giving up now. Yelling: go all the way. A new texture. The violence is inexhaustible. Up some little street now, people vomit and cough next to the obelisk urinals. Electric blues and bile yellow. I’m falling in love with the scratches, the dust. The contaminated light. Having a good time, sweat it out. Try it, you might like it. Buggered to oblivion. Now, wouldn’t that be nice?

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مَا شَاءَ ٱللَّٰه