Evy Jokhova’s exhibition ‘Towering on the condition of fragments’ at Passen-gers consists of a mix of sculptures and installations that generate questions about nature and artifice, crafted and found objects, and subjective and objective states. Stacked in formations that resemble cairns, man-made stacks of stone that have been used in ceremonies in cultures across the world, the works explore the social and historical dimensions of stone, linoleum, paint and fur.
Accompanied by an experimental text written jointly by Jokhova, and the curator and artist Julie Hill, the exhibition proposes sedimentation as a formal and conceptual framework for exploring materiality. ‘Slabs on Moulding’, sculptural arrangements consisting of slabs of painted linoleum positioned on top of carved stone bases are cairns of postmodernity, conflating the categories of found object, human artifice and mechanically produced pattern. The carved stone bases resemble artefacts or detritus from a building site, but the artist’s painterly manipulation of the linoleum surfaces calls such origins into question. Suspicion is aroused by the melding together of the industrial and the crafted in patterns resembling natural stone. If sedimentation implies a material trace of time’s passing, here sedimentation is re-imagined for the contemporary condition, where time has folded in on itself destroying certainty and the necessity of origins altogether.
A similar layering of voices in the textual accompaniment, written in the surrealist technique of exquisite corpse, alternates between the objectivising distance of a story-teller, and an enumeration of events, states and material transformations. It invites the viewer to slow down and experience the objectivised, entropic time of sedimented materials: Artemis shouts in German to the Greek Gods, surprised at her own voice; stones breathe, and one is instructed to ‘descend into deeply etched spheroids’. A fusion of the social and material, of human and stone, of subjective experience and objective states makes these sculptures stranger still by positioning the viewer as a material among materials, a thing among things.
Themes of time, sedimentation, materiality and artificiality are explored in sculptural and painterly installations that follow the first set of sculptures but these are more site-based, more intertwined with issues of architecture and space. ‘Slabs, Pigeon’, a three-dimensional layered painting on board and linoleum is leant against a granite-pattern print made directly on the gallery’s timber wall, incorporating real space into the space of the artwork. On the opposite wall a photograph of an Estonian bus stop grants a more historically situated, and a more personal point of entrance into the exhibition.
‘Waiting for the bus’ is part of an ongoing documentation by the artist of vanishing concrete bus stops built during Socialism in Estonia. Positioning the bus stop as an artefact, a structure and a material within the installation, Jokhova draws attention to the polysemy of materials in collective and personal histories encapsulated in architectural forms. In providing two points of entrance to the experience of materials, the exhibition leads the viewer to a strange temporality, somewhere between objectivity and subjectivity, between petrified humanity and stones that breathe.