Matt’s Gallery reopens with Annie Whiles’ The Listening Thing, a new work commissioned especially for their 3x3x3 metre cubic gallery space.
“Until recently, I thought the moon was doing the shining. From within. Emanating.
Quite recently, I read that the length of time required for a signal to travel across the vastness of space, means that any signal detected would come from the distant past. I took this to mean that if we were receiving messages from another planet, they were still landing in our past. It actually meant the other planet’s past but it had already sent me where I needed to go to fetch the Listening Thing.”
Whiles makes woodcarvings, drawings and embroideries from a collection of personal icons, gathered from encounters or confusions she has experienced. The images, photographs and objects gather in her studio and may lay dormant for several years until the right time. The artist likens these icons to messages or signals, mediating between different worlds.
Whiles describes the process of carving as “a means to an end to see a wooden object or device in a room,” likening the process to archaeology, engaging with a material both dead and alive. Surfaces are then painted to divert attention from the wood itself. The work acts as a test or a probe, travelling without moving, possibly exceeding its material conditions but unable to escape its own comedy.
For Matt’s Gallery’s cubic gallery space she has undertaken a carving that strays from the naturalistic 1:1 scale common to her practice. The Listening Thing arose from an invitation to create something for this space. In it coalesce an image that Whiles had for some years around the studio, a helpful misunderstanding about astronomical matters, and some rumination on the ‘Wow! Signal’ – an apparent extra-terrestrial broadcast, received on August 15th 1977 by Ohio State University’s Big Ear radio telescope.
The Listening Thing is accompanied by Q4, the fourth instalment in our ongoing series of artist interviews.
To ensure the safety of our visitors, artists & staff, visitors to the gallery will be required to wear a face covering, unless they are exempt from doing so. If you do not have a mask, we will provide one free of charge. We also ask that visitors clean their hands using the sanitiser provided when entering the gallery. Please stay at home if you are feeling unwell.
When making a booking, please note that the maximum capacity of the gallery is four people from the same household or support bubble.
The Listening Thing is on at Matts Gallery, 92 Webster Road, London, SE16 4DF from 24 September – 31 October. Times: Thursday – Saturday, 11am-5pm.
Image: Annie Whiles, Rock/Dog/Wood, 2020. Courtesy of the artist and Matt’s Gallery, London.