The Naming of Things

1 September 2021 — 3 October 2021
Curated by Bryony Dawson
ARTISTS:  Sriwhana Spong / Charlie Godet Thomas / Jeanne Constantin  / Sarah Tripp / Jessica Higgins / Lydia Davies / Bryony Dawson

If to name something is to attempt some ownership over it – some fixity or hold – to pinpoint some integral meaning or to assert a structure for experience – then it is destined to slip and miss, since the associated meaning of words is never identical between any two people. 

Curated by Bryony Dawson, The Naming of Things explores the unfixed and mutable potential of language. Unhooked from the task to convey truth or objectivity, this slippery unreliability can instead be viewed as a generous invitation for fluid, speculative and plural perspectives.

The media of painting, sculpture, moving image and sound have a materiality, a tactile or spatial presence that language can only simulate. However, in this exhibition, it is precisely this immateriality that gives language the freedom to expand and mutate in virtual space – to construct imaginary architectures, give voices to intangible phenomena, and to inhabit multiple viewpoints at once. The selected artists use writing as a central tool within film, sculpture and sound works to explore topics including quantum physics, psychological space, and everyday encounters. 

The exhibition welcomes the tensions between fixed identity and subjectivity as a way to interrogate the structures that name our experience. It invites inquiry into methods of knowledge production that are not reliant on fixed categories or objective structures. Instead, ‘knowledge’ might be conceived as a complex, woven and mutable network incorporating both acceptance of and resistance to these categories and structures that name us: a continuously shifting process of rethinking, rearranging, re-naming. 

The Naming of Things was selected from proposals submitted by Castlefield Gallery Associates by guest selector, artist Ryan Gander OBE and Castlefield Gallery’s Curator & Deputy Director, Matthew Pendergast.

Coinciding with The Naming of Things at  Castlefield Gallery will be a presentation of The Annotated Reader; a publication-as-exhibition and exhibition-as-publication featuring creative personalities responding and remarking on a chosen piece of writing conceived by Ryan Gander and Jonathan P. Watts. Contemporary artists, designers, writers, institutional founders, musicians and more were invited to imagine they’d missed the last train. “Is there one piece of writing that you would want with you for company in the small hours?”

Special thanks to Castlefield Gallery Commissioning Patrons Allan & Jo Melzack.

WATCH NOW:  Bryony Dawson introduces the exhibition The Naming of Things at Castlefield Gallery

Podcast: In conversation: Bryony Dawson, Ryan Gander and Matthew Pendergast

Image: Sriwhana Spong, castle-crystal (2019), video still. Image courtesy the artist and Michael Lett.