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Fiona Crisp: Material Sight

Exhibition: 24 March - 13 May 2018

Fiona Crisp explores how we might encounter spaces where the frontiers of knowledge are being expanded. Material Sight is a new, large-scale commission that uses photography, moving image and sound to approach the material environments where experiments that challenge the limits of our imagination are carried out. For nearly two years Crisp has worked with three world-leading research facilities for 'fundamental science': Boulby Underground Laboratory, sited in the UK's deepest working mine, Durham University's Institute for Computational Cosmology and Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso, the world's largest underground laboratory for particle physics, housed inside a mountain in central Italy.

Across all these sites, knowledge is pursued at scales and distances beyond our human sensing, from the macro scale of the multiverse to the micro scale of the sub-atomic world. In Material Sight, Crisp explores how we might counter this sensory remoteness, not through a documentary narrative but by being placed into a physical, tangible relation to the spaces and laboratories where the science is performed; to this end Crisp builds a landscape of image and sound, augmenting the gallery architecture with scaffolding walls that support a cycle of large-scale photographs and moving image works.

Boulby Underground Laboratory is over a kilometre beneath the Earth's surface and is, in the team's own words, "a special place: 'a quiet place in the universe' where studies can be done almost entirely free from natural background radiation." Within environments such as these, some of the most complex questions about the structure and history of the universe are being trialled, yet the sites themselves, as well as the science that is performed in them, are often invisible or inaccessible to the public at large.

Through a combination of photography, moving image and sound Material Sight places us in a physical relation to the extraordinary endeavour of fundamental science, where knowledge is pursued at the furthest reaches of our human imagination. From June 2018 Material Sight will be exhibited at Arts Catalyst Centre for Art, Science & Technology, 74-76 Cromer Street, London, WC1H 8DR.

Commissioned in partnership with Arts Catalyst.

Generously supported by The Leverhulme Trust, Arts Council England and the Science & Technology Facilities Council.

Fiona Crisp is an artist known for creating installations of large-scale photographs that question the presence of the photographic object as an unstable and deeply equivocal phenomenon. Her projects have been created by spending intensive periods of time in particular locations. Previous projects have included working in the Early Christian catacombs of Rome, and in a Second World War underground military hospital. Crisp studied at the Slade School of Fine Art and has exhibited both nationally and internationally. The project Material Sight has been supported by a Leverhulme Research Fellowship. Crisp's work is held by several national collections of contemporary art, including Tate, the British Council, Arts Council and Government Art Collection. Fiona Crisp is represented by Matt's Gallery, London.

Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art:

Following a capital redevelopment project in 2017, Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art will reopen a new 3200sq/ft, 5m high exhibition gallery at National Glass Centre, part of the University of Sunderland. Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2019 having been one of the very first contemporary art galleries in Britain. It has provided major international figures with their first UK exhibitions, including Harun Farocki (Germany) and Cory Arcangel (USA), and exhibited fourteen Turner Prize nominees.

Arts Catalyst:

Arts Catalyst is a contemporary art organisation focused on cross-disciplinary art and research. It commissions and produces projects, artworks and exhibitions that connect with other fields of knowledge, expanding artistic practice into domains commonly associated with science and specialist research. Arts Catalyst's mission is to activate new ideas, conversations and transformative experiences across science and culture, engaging people in a dynamic response to a changing world. Over 23 years, the organisation has commissioned over 150 new artists' projects, including major works by Tomas Saraceno, Aleksandra Mir, Critical Art Ensemble and Jan Fabre, and produced numerous exhibitions, research projects, conferences and publications. The Arts Catalyst Centre in King's Cross opened in January 2016 as an exhibition space, showcasing Arts Catalyst projects developed locally, nationally and internationally, and a research centre from which to initiate new co-inquiries connecting local interests with wider planetary issues.






Safe Haven, Fiona Crisp (2010)

Giclée print from colour transparency
Image courtesy of the artist and Matt's Gallery, London

Osservatorio Astronomico di Campo Imperatore, Fiona Crisp (2018) 

Giclée print from colour transparency
Image courtesy of the artist and Matt's Gallery, London

Dr Jeurgen Schmoll, Centre for Advanced Instrumentation, Fiona Crisp (2013)  

Giclée print from colour transparency
Image courtesy of the artist and Matt's Gallery, London

LNGS Exit, Fiona Crisp (2018)  

Giclée print from colour transparency
Image courtesy of the artist and Matt's Gallery, London