Temporality and time in Nowhere without no(w)

‘Nowhere without no(w)’ by Irish artists Walker and Walker allows brother artists, Joe and Pat Walker, to explore time, space temporality and its relationship with language and poetry.

“How language articulates is quite important to us,” Joe Walker said as he walked through the IMMA to his exhibition.  

Upon entering the exhibition, inverted neon text attracts the undivided attention of visitors. A turn to the mirror on adjacent wall inverts the text, ‘The Presence before him was a presence.’

“You turn your back on the physicality of the text to the reflection, which is addressing the notion more as a presence,” Joe said in relation to this piece.

Joe and Pat Walker have been working together since 1989. Originally working separately as painters, the two focused on modern art since they started working together.

“We found it liberating working in the real space and having endless materials that we could use. We got to explore their materiality and learn how to articulate objects,” Joe said about such shift in artistic direction.

Around the four rooms of the Nowhere without no(w) exhibition, visitors come across various smaller pieces that could easily be missed.

Upon further investigation into these pieces their deeper meanings are revealed and their importance in the narrative that Walker and Walker are trying to convey can clearly be seen.

One such example is a small sliver dot, or a full stop.

“It’s the end of a statement and yet also the beginning of a statement,” Joe said in relation to this small, almost missable piece of art.

“We made it in silver so eventually it would get black and tarnished,” Pat said, linking it into the exhibition’s overall ongoing theme of temporality.

Two threads run from the ceiling to the floor.

“This brings us back to the notion of temporality again,” Joe said regarding this piece that is once again almost missable but contributes to the ongoing message of the exhibition. “Two different threads. White and black. Polar opposites, but as the light fades through time they become indistinguishable.

In the second room of the gallery, visitors come across aluminium lettering on the wall: ‘I say: a fl w r! And there arises musically, its very essence, that which remains absent from every bouquet.’

This phrase is taken from French poet Stéphanie Mallarmé.

“We have always been interested in where the language breaks down,” Joe said.

“What we found interesting about this was that by omitting the two vowels in flower brings out the notion of the orality in the sentence because he’s talking about the literary language and how language can be broke free from the constraints of what it signifies within poetry,” he explained.

The exhibition was inspired by the play ‘Return in verse’. “It’s a play by Baudelaire and his political beliefs at the time. He couldn’t come to speak of them, except in verse and in poetry,” Joe said when discussing the inspiration behind the exhibition.

Similarly to the play, Walker and Walker use the exhibition to explore time and space and temporality in relation to poetry.

“Our work tends to work on other bodies of work, getting work that fits together, in some way, even if it isn’t that cohesive, but it addresses a certain issue, we produce rather than isolate with our bodies and some might feed off each other,” Pat said.

In the final room of the exhibition, we see a window frame, jet black, with contrasting white dots, resembling stars in a night sky.

The piece is actually the poem ‘A throw of the dice will never abolish chance’ by Mallarmé.

“We obliterated everything except the centre of the O’s,” Joe said when examining the piece.

The white centres of the O’s against the black background creates the image of stars in the night sky.

“This is a long term project where we had removed pages from books with poems that were related to the night,“ Joe added.

Two complex devices on a table in the center of the room also relate to the night sky and stars. A drawing plotter is tracking Venus as it circulates.

“The eventual pattern takes eight years to complete. It makes a pattern of the Venus rose,” Joe said.

One final side room with a window contains a plant.

“This plant potentially flowers for one night only, it’s very unique to any plant. It’s a very poetic concept and it only is during the night,” Joe said upon entering the room.

The piece once again ties to this narrative of time and temporality.

“Each room was like a conciliation of works it could be seen as almost chapters or paragraphs in relationship to feeding the narrative how works are placed together and what goes where is very important to our practise and that goes back to the concern of our bodies of work when you know,” Joe said in relation to his exhibition.

Nowhere without no(w) will be on display in the IMMA until June 3rd.

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