For her first museum solo presentation in the United States, Hannah Sawtell has developed a new installation and sound work for the New Museum’s Lobby Gallery.
Hannah Sawtell, Terminal Vendor, from “Vendor,” 2012 (detail). Installation view: Bloomberg Space, London. Courtesy the artist and Vilma Gold, London
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In her work, Sawtell considers the relationship between the surfaces of images and objects, and the multiplicity of structures that underpin them. Through a variety of media—installation, video, print, radio broadcast, sound, and performance—Sawtell renders the fluidity of digital images with spatial, physical, and temporal qualities, and critically points to their function as decoy indicators for larger and dominating systems of production, access, surplus, and consumption. Additionally alluding to the repetitive nature of contemporary production, Sawtell evokes an aesthetic of industrial design through her installations and objects. Much of her influence comes from her previous work as a DJ and in running Detroit’s Planet E Label, and she often integrates noise, rhythm, and beat as part of her video works and performances.
In “Vendor” (2012), a recent work exhibited at Bloomberg SPACE (part of a two-site show also at the ICA, London), Sawtell created an installation from online images that she repeatedly encountered during her residency at Bloomberg News Agency in London. Cutting the images with live screen-based digital tools and using close-up textures, Sawtell created a space that unpacks and reveals the contemporary virtual and digital image. Frequently collaborating with local manufacturers to produce her works, another recent piece, Re-Petitioner (2013), included a set of bespoke speakers that transformed the large screen in front of them into an acoustic mirror. Exposed to an intense experience of noise, audiences also witnessed computer-generated images of the brutalist Norwegian Y-Block building in Oslo and a landscape of what she considers “pre-fossilized CGI objects” projected onto the large screen.
For the New Museum, Sawtell creates a new sculptural installation and sound work made specifically for the Lobby Gallery, and realizes a subsequent edition of her “Broadsheets” publication series.
“Hannah Sawtell: ACCUMULATOR” is on view at the New Museum from April 23–June 22, 2014, and is curated by Helga Christoffersen, Assistant Curator.
Hannah Sawtell was born in London in 1971, where she also lives and works. Recent solo shows include Vilma Gold, London, Clocktower Gallery, New York, and two linked exhibitions at the ICA, London, and ICA at Bloomberg SPACE, London, for which she published Broadsheets 1-3, a publication distributed with Business Week magazine, and realized Sonic Lumps, a performance in collaboration with Factory Floor. Her work has been included in group exhibitions such as “SoundSpill,” Zabludowicz Collection, New York (2013), “With the Tip of a Hat,” the Artist’s Institute, New York (2012), “Novel,” a screening for Time Again hosted by the Sculpture Center, New York (2011), “Outrageous Fortune: artists remake the Tarot,” Hayward Touring/Focal Point Gallery, Southend (2011), and “The Great White Way Goes Black,” Vilma Gold, London (2011). She is included in “Assembly: A Survey of Recent Artists’ Film and Video in Britain 2008–2013” at Tate Britain and will have solo exhibitions at Bergen Kunsthall, Norway, and Focal Point Gallery, Southend-on-Sea, in 2014. In 2013, she was shortlisted for the Jarman Award.