On a sunny Tuesday morning on 4 June in the grate over the storm drain to the Chesapeake Bay in front on Sam’s Bagels on Cold Spring Lane in Baltimore, there was:
one large men’s black work glove
one dense mat of oak pollen
one unblemished dead rat
one white plastic bottle cap
one smooth stick of wood
Glove, pollen, rat, cap, stick. As I encountered these items, they shimmied back and forth between debris and thing – between, on the one hand, stuff to ignore, except insofar as it betokened human activity (the workman’s efforts, the litterer’s toss, the rat-poisoner’s success), and, on the other hand, stuff that commanded attention in its own right, as existents in excess of their association with human meanings, habits or projects.
In the second moment, stuff exhibited its thing-power; it issued a call, even if I did not quite understand what it was saying. At the very least, it provoked affects in me: I was repelled by the dead (or was it merely sleeping?) rat and dismayed by the litter, but I also felt something else: a nameless awareness of the impossible singularity of that rat, that configuration of pollen, that otherwise banal, mass-produced plastic water-bottle cap.
Bennett, Jane. Vibrant Matter. London: Duke University Press 2010
The works included in this exhibition focus on the energy and frequencies inherent in all matter, the life cycles of objects and the complexity of preservation. Concerned with materiality, process and the re-presentation of matter, all the artists included are exploring relationships and tensions between the organic and synthetic, figuration and abstraction, and the found and made object.