Cooper Gallery is delighted to present Chimera, an exhibition bringing together new and existing works by Nashashibi/Skaer – the joint practice of Turner Prize nominated artists Rosalind Nashashibi and Lucy Skaer.
From the ancient Greek for a female goat, ‘chimera’ today refers to a beast or an idea composed of incongruous parts, an illusion or fabrication of the mind. The exhibition traverses art history, mythology and the cyclical nature of new life and new ideas. Fusion and slippages of meaning produce an associative and discursive mediation on transformation through which chimera, a composite being that in its very form unsettles the possibility of an archetype, encourages us to doubt the dominance of the real.
At the heart of Chimera are three collaborative films which combine photographic images with musical composition, drawing and painting, skewing the images to form new experiences.
Working in response to the architectural space of Cooper Gallery, Nashashibi/Skaer examine the nuances of each other’s artistic practice by choreographing collaborative films with prints and new solo works, bronze and stone sculpture from Lucy Skaer and painting by Rosalind Nashashibi, adding new meanings and destabilising the boundaries between the formal qualities inherent to each particular artwork and their respective practices.
The three films in Chimera, Our Magnolia (2009), Bear (2019) and Lamb (2021) subtly examine different aspects of our perceptual universe. Lamb and Bear, shot in a lambing shed on the Isle of Lewis over two consecutive lambing seasons, are conceived as a possible bestiary, in which beasts are named and illustrated. The drama of the lambing is heightened by human voice, transformative drawing and music. Commissioned by Cooper Gallery, Bear was made a year later during lockdown, a time that was so unexpectedly different.
Lamb and Bear are triangulated by an earlier work Our Magnolia. This film begins with Flight of the Magnolia (1944), a painting made by Paul Nash at a key historical moment; the possible invasion of Britain from the skies, which would 'flower' with parachutes. The painted image is both surreal and possible, pointing to reality being amorphous in times of war. Our Magnolia extends the transformative logic of the painting to summon political spectres from the artists’ memory, associating ‘Magnolia’ with Maggie (Margaret Thatcher), the oil wars and the looting of the Iraq Museum that followed in their wake.
Offering moments of serene contemplation and reverie, Chimera and its complex ambiguity implores us all to take note of the transformative potential that hovers among everything we see, hear and touch.
Preview & In-conversation: Thursday 29 September, 17:30 - 20:00
University of Dundee
Perth Road, Dundee DD1 4HT, UK