The philosophical proposition of the rhizome offers a “structure” (or anti-structure) that goes some way to describing the often unnameable, intangible processes required for the production of art—establishing a set of conditions that support the necessity for unknowingness and uncertainty as methodology.
In taking the rhizome as a basic principal for consideration in the generation of physical work, employing emergent processes rather than construction by design, my practice engages this key concept from Deleuze and Guattari in multiple ways:
In aiming to be composed “not of units but of dimensions, or rather directions in motion,” (Deleuze and Guattari 1987, 21) the work consists of many strands, structured from hundreds of thousands of rubber bands, that wrap, stretch, loop, hang, and twist around and across an architectural space. The work exists in the space between, growing among things, opportunistically inhabiting and encompassing architecture as part of its structure where the work “forms a rhizome with the world” (ibid., 11)—rather than existing separately to it.
The work does not rest within a single discipline: the lines act like drawings in three dimensions—it consumes and melds with architecture, the push and pull of effusive colour in space emphasises painterly qualities while often referencing, in it’s analogue form, digital technologies and the vastness of “the web.” The practice exists more broadly within the expanded field of sculptural installation where ideas and processes for generating art are not separable into constituent parts but exist in symbiosis.
The entangled network of filaments from which the work is constructed are like threads of visual organisation connecting any point to any other point in a meshwork and bit-coding of information. The seemingly abstract, annotative qualities of the work act like a mapping in the space of its own making. The vibrating strands become a fluid diagram—“a shifting map” (ibid., 19)—of the performative act that constituted its construction.
There are different timescales embedded in the work. The piece may take minutes, hours, or days to install, although the strands, with their handmade morphology, have been hundreds, thousands of hours in the making.
The elastic band is a unit of variable measure, therefore the work lacks exactitude as its overall length is immeasurable and is relative to the amount of tension and weight exerted upon the ropes. The strands are still being made, but there is no definable amount, no given end to the making of the material: “It has neither beginning nor end, but always a middle from which it grows and which it overspills.” (ibid., 21) There are many beginnings and ends lost among the mass metreage of loops that expand or contract across space.
Nomadic in nature the work can be packed down and reinstalled (almost) anywhere. Taking form for a finite period of time until rolled up ready to be remade in a unique, but relative, form in another time and space—much as worm-casts represent the aftermath of movement through the ground and exist for a while on the surface until they become washed down again by rain. They can reform, but each time, differently.
The title of the work reflects the overarching uncertainty of process through which one may burrow to arrive at the production of an artwork. The work is a processual murmuration where any seeming point of arrival quickly loses itself as it melds into a point of departure—the journey to seek form continues—arrested momentarily only by fleeting instances of articulation.
Deleuze, Giles, and Félix Guattari. 1987. “Introduction: Rhizome.” In A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Translated by Brian Massumi, 3-25. London: Continuum.
about the author(s)
Mhairi Vari is a Scottish artist based in London and represented by Domobaal Gallery. She completed postgraduate studies in fine art at the Royal Academy Schools, London, and exhibits internationally. Recent exhibitions include Elbow curated by Ian Dawson, CandC Gallery, London; perpetual doubt, constant becoming—John Street, Domobaal Gallery, London; LOL Memory, Art13 Project, Olympia, London; Repeater—Park Avenue (permanent installation), New York; Domain, Domobaal Gallery, London; Haste Ye Back—Desert Rose, ARTicle Gallery, Birmingham. In 2010–11 she was Wheatley Fine Art Fellow at Birmingham Institute of Art and Design. Vari works as a visiting lecturer on BA and MA Fine Art courses around the UK.
info & contact
Visual artist, represented by Domobaal Gallery, London, UK
mhairi_vari [AT] yahoo.co.uk