Unyimeabasi Udoh - 'A Gain'
“There lies beneath a profound emptiness, inherent nothingness, a boundless vacuum if all preconceived notions about the natural meaning of a word are stripped back. To make sense of the world, avoid waiting to be filled with the interpretations, associations, and emotions we ascribe to language.”
EXHIBITION ESSAY A Gain
Bringing together sculpture, installation, drawings and prints, the works in the exhibition are rooted in existentialism, employing dissonance between form and content, playing with how much absurdity is involved in the construction of meaning. In ‘A Gain,’ Udoh explores the complex relationship between language, meaning, and artistic expression by challenging conventional perceptions.
The exhibition will present a new work, ‘Untitled’ (Correspondence), which is part of an ongoing series of handmade party garlands using unexpected phrases instead of the usual “happy birthday”. In this case, the garland reads “as above”. In a humorous way, Udoh shows how even a slight deviation in content unravels the process of meaning construction.
They similarly defies expectations in ‘O Clock’, in which they have modified an analogue clock by removing the hour and minute hands and painting over all of the digits except for the 0. Adjusting normal objects to something slightly different shows the viewer that what is taken for granted is not guaranteed.
In ‘Double Vision’, which is also part of an ongoing body of work, the artist has created a sand installation with black volcanic sand and lead crystal balls. It’s a direct exploration of absurdity, offering viewers a literal pile of sand. Udoh invites us to question the significance we attach to artistic materials and their interpretation.
In ‘A Gain’, using absurdity as a tool, Udoh demonstrates that with only a slight divergence, the presumed conventional framework of meaning collapses to unveil an expansive void beneath. You can visit ‘A Gain’ at Night Café until the 9th of December.
Unyimeabasi Udoh (b. 1996, USA) lives and works in London. Recent exhibitions include Ave at the Royal Academy of Arts, London (2023); Free + Open at the Design Museum of Chicago (2022); Wayfinding at LVL3, Chicago (2022); Lifelinien at Scotty, Berlin (2022); Title Case at Tiger Strikes Asteroid, Chicago (2021); and Raisin at 6018North as part of the Chicago Architecture Biennial, Chicago (2021). Udoh holds an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a BA from Columbia University. Their work is held in the collections of the Driehaus Museum and the Joan Flasch Artists’ Book Collection, Chicago. Most recently, Udoh was the 2022–23 Starr Fellow at the Royal Academy of Arts.