Too Much Night, Again: Pae White at the South London Gallery

Pae White’s installation at South London Gallery opened on the 12th of March. Prior to the exhibition opening, she led an artist talk in the Clore Studio that provided an insight into the history and inspirations behind her experimental practise.

Pae White is a multi-media artist who lives and works in Los Angeles and has exhibited extensively across the USA and internationally. Her work is characterised by its diversity and ability to develop visually impressive responses to a range of contexts.

Her practise effortlessly blends elements of art, design and architecture to create intuitive and unique site-specific works. This installation, Too Much Night, Again, has been created specifically for the exhibition hall at South London Gallery. It is a vast and impressive undulated string creation made from 48km of coloured yarn (and 4,725 eye screws!) and took her 8-strong team two weeks to install. The dependence on a technical team to help realise a project is not unusual for a conceptual artist, and White openly commends the fruitful benefits of external interpretation and collaboration. She believes that the relationship between the maker and a larger creative team is both crucial and beneficial.

The nature of White’s site-specific endeavours allows her to respond intuitively and thus uniquely to each space she has worked in. The “other-worldliness” (White’s own words) of the high ceilings and symmetry of the hall at South London Gallery particularly appealed to her as “heavenly and classical”. However, the installation is deliberately the antithesis of these qualities. It has been made assiduously complex in order to create a sense of tension and conflict with the original ethereal harmony. There is also a potential psychedelic quality to the piece. By playing with scale and monumentalising simple materials, White manages to create unexpected and surprising emotional impacts.

White remarks that she is fascinated by “the world’s potential to become a graphic”. Her interest in the relationship between text, language and printed matter was born whilst studying graphic design at art school and has more recently led to an artistic development of “super graphics”. Similar to the techniques she employed to create the installation S U M M E R X X in Philadelphia in 2012, White uses the yarn to spell out certain words. In Too Much Night, Again the mesh of threads writes the words TIGER TIME and UNMATTERING. White questions the passing of time, the transience of existence and what it means to dissolve. Inspired by her recent struggle with insomnia and sleeplessness, this disharmony is evocative of anxiety and feelings of fear. The use of the purple and black yarn is a particular and personal reference to the cover of Black Sabbath’s Master of Reality album. The album terrified White so much as a child that it had to be hidden under her bed in order for her to sleep peacefully.

The work of Pae White explores movement and structure. She refers to her interest in capitalising on “pockets of dead space” and creating unusual “ways to get in” via the interaction of surfaces and light. Too Much Night, Again reifies her artistic exploration of human activity and aesthetics. Visitors are able to engage with the space on a physical level, it relies on their navigation and exploration. Depending on where you are situated within the work, the super graphics gradually wax and wane. By negotiating a journey through and around the work, the viewer becomes subject and agent, observer and participant.

Too Much Night, Again by Pae White is open until 12 May 2013: For more information click here

Pae White’s artist talk was streamed by this is tomorrow magazine and can be watched online here

words Philomena Epps


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