16 March — 15 April 2023
16 March — 15 April 2023
Luzpomphia is a solo presentation of new works by London-based artist Sriwhana Spong. A series of objects, mono-prints and a film manifest the artist’s material explorations into imagery taken from dreams as well as the visions and practices of women mystics.
A woman sees in the dark
trees that renew her—
A pear tree
A peach tree
A pistachio tree
A plum tree—
then in wakefulness
the same in her
Bleeding veins conjured from plant roots and hand-painted brushstrokes rush through the frame in Spong’s This Tree is Mine! (2022). Originally commissioned for the Istanbul Biennale, the 16mm film uses gestures, applied root structures, field recordings of ants, a creaking tree and an advancing storm together with voice-over to approach the image of a tree as it appeared in dreams by the artist and two women important to Sufi mysticism in the 8th and 9th centuries, Rābiʿa al-Adawiyya and Umm ʿAbdallah. In each of the three dreams, the woman are told that the large central tree they dream of is theirs.
The application of ink on film is mimicked in a new series of monoprints for which glass is painted with pigment inks and then pressed onto paper. Calligraphic traces bear forms alluding to human and non-human bodies prey to forces of hypnosis or interrogation.
Animal bodies are evoked with the aid of everyday materials such as plastic mesh bags used to carry fruits and pins used to support elaborate hair-styles. These mundane materials are amassed and cunningly woven together to resemble the tails of foxes, appearing as votive offerings or appendages which might form parts of costumes to be worn by performing bodies or even gallery walls.
Vegetal bodies are alluded to again in pairs of bronzes cast from apples. These bitten, fallen fruit made monumental, point to fructifying forces as well as processes of ripeness and decay unfolding over time. Their bright patinated cores give the impression of eyes. Their titles, taken from the Lingua Ignota, a private language received by the German mystic Hildegard von Bingen in the 12th century, conjure an assembly of entities that both inform and challenge the artist’s practice. Eyes and eyes embedded into walls indicate visions—one of the errant modes of knowledge production, vivid yet unverifiable, that likewise inform the artist’s work. Luzpomphia, Von Bingen’s word for ‘eyeball’ is comprised of her word for apple, pomziaz, marrying the anatomical with the botanical, so that an eyeball is comprised of an apple, halved.