Exploring the ephemerality and the transient nature of all materialistic things has been a focal point of many artists. Park McArthur often includes readymade industrial objects, worn out things, unusual materials, and experiments with different reactions between them, in order to display her vision of the fleeting time before us. Making her debut in the UK, the New York-based artist Park McArthur is coming to Chisenhale Gallery with new works consisted of sculpture, sound and text. The show will include an installation with three main components; a series of sculptures made from wholesale-size polyurethane foam, a series of stainless steel trays packed with small, single-use items such as condoms and latex gloves, and the third part of the exhibition will explore the properties of superabsorbent polymer powder.
The quite unorthodox material used by McArthur is actually a polyurethane foam designed to absorb sound and impact. With the careful positioning within the gallery, the foam dominates the room and absorbs the space around it, making itself, and what surrounds it, to be sensed and felt. The material is also influenced by its surroundings, the light and atmosphere affect the foam, it degenerates, or even goes through its own generation, shown through alterations in color and texture. Another part of the exhibition consists of the use of superabsorbent polymer powder, which is a substance developed to soak up large quantities of liquid relative to its mass. Created as an invention of post-war materials science, the substance is widely used today in various disposable hygiene products, such as incontinence pads, sanitary towels and bed liners. Once the liquid is introduced, the powder swells up to hundreds of times its size, changing into a form of gel. In this particular exhibit, the polymer powder acts and reacts to the processes of papermaking as well as to the surrounding conditions within the gallery space.
McArthur addresses the formal and informal structures of care, exploring the social nature of dependency and its political implications. Often relying on her own experiences of disability, the artist conveys the issues of dependency through everyday lived experience. In addition to her use of unusual materials, consisted of readymade industrial objects, Park McArthur is interested in objects that come from – ‘the work necessary for life’ as she would describe them. Her previous sculptures and atypical installations included her own worn out pyjamas, altered by the processes of care and sleep, and other objects such as twenty temporary access ramps, made or purchased by the artist in order to be able to enter/exit buildings by wheelchair. Her visual art and writing focus on the viable conditions of life and the ways they invoke critique and criticality. Through the use of unorthodox, yet common, materials and objects, McArthur poses questions which both affect her on a personal level and relate to our society’s attitude towards the issues.
After having her work exhibited in group shows at the Smithsonian Museum, ICA Philadelphia and Botkyrka Konsthall Sweden, Park McArthur makes her premier in the UK. The show explores the different ways of different materials and how they interact with the surroundings, relating to the way our flesh interacts with our surroundings. What is the power of insulation, the ability to soak up, bear and accommodate, at what point is expulsion inevitable and the overflow must ensue? The exhibition explores the tipping points of acceptance and denial, the juxtaposed processes of absorption and expulsion, all wrapped up in a frame of common degeneration of time. Park McArthur exhibition is on view from 29 January – 3 April, 2016, at Chisenhale Gallery in London. The preview is scheduled for Thursday, January 28, 6:30-8:30pm, while the press preview is organized for the same day; 2:30-6:30pm.
All images as credited
Featured images: Park McArthur - Ramps, 2014, courtesy of the artist and ESSEX STREET, New York; Park McArthur - Private Signs, 2014, courtesy of the artist and ESSEX STREET, New York; Park McArthur - How to get a wheelchair over sand, 2013, courtesy of the artist and ESSEX STREET, New York; Park McArthur - Black Molded Bumpers 2014 (detail), courtesy of the artist and ESSEX STREET, New York; Left: Park McArthur, installation view, 2014, courtesy of the artist and Lars Friedrich, Berlin / Right: Park McArthur - Polyurethane Foam, 2014, courtesy of the artist and ESSEX STREET, New York