Provocative domain

Tracy Murinik: On show in Cape Town

Like the variegations of a leaf skeleton, or a highly convoluted, contoured mapping of space, Paul Edmunds’s assemblages inveigle themselves along the foundations of the Mark Coetzee Fine Art Cabinet in an installation entitled Once Again.

Hundreds of small plastic cable ties and bottle tops, all meticulously joined and pinned, make up this latticed maze; all of its components found materials from the streets of Cape Town. This is a painstaking and largely obsessive project. And yet, the r esult is a profoundly serene, contemplative space.

Edmunds describes a concern with “process” in his work, referring at once to the process by which the work is made, and to a recognition of “natural processes” of which both he and the materials that he manipulates are a part.
The cyclical origins of the plastic he uses, in which one is able to plot an evolution of minerals and plant materials, to the fossil fuels which make up the plastic for exa

mple, reflects the idea that all materials are in a constant state of change.

The recycled components which make up the work form a further stage of that evolution. But in choosing to utilise these seemingly useless found bits, Edmunds exposes a “careless consumerism” which sees materials “only on the level of the immediate and ob jective, only at the level of their ‘usefulness’ and for the duration of their existence as such things”. He allots recognition and attention, and in so doing, gives value to all things as being part of these universal, natural cycles.

The visual forms which this work takes on, echo this potential. The patterns and rhythms happen gradually in small, quiet movements. They grow in accumulated effect evoking both an awareness of sameness, and a scrutinised recognition of variation. One be comes aware of the need to “find” greater, recognisable images in the maze, barely conscious attempts to find appeasing confirmation of oneself in the “system”.

But one is lulled into other insights, too, in this silently provocative domain. “Time”, as a concept, has many resonances here. It seems impossible to miss the scrupulous committedness to physical and creative processes carried out in this work, where e ach pin stands as a marker of the time consumed in making, largely negated by the temporary nature of installation.

This recognition is strenghened by the artist’s desire to re-use the materials of this work as the means of other future works. The message is unsentimental, but also largely comforting in the way it describes a universal system of processes which are al l-encompassing.

Once Again by Paul Edmunds is at the Mark Coetzee Fine Art Cabinet in Cape Town until March 28

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