With the aid of a children’s chemistry set and a selection of household chemicals, Jessica Ramm presents a series of prints that evidence everyday magic. Her chemical and physical experiments propose alternative ways of navigating humanity’s symbiotic relationship with the material environment while paying particular attention to the extravagance of human aspiration.
Alongside works in print, are a series of sculptures questioning immutable molecular structures. Together the exhibition explores the relationships between humans, the environment and technology. In addition to physical forces, chemical compositions, metabolic reactions and contaminations, Ramm is curious about the narratives that inform civilisations ordering of nature.
Many of the works in the exhibition are influenced by Charles MacKay’s ‘Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds’ first published in 1841, in which he scathingly debunks a range of ‘peculiar delusions’ and ‘follies’ that have captured popular imagination throughout history, such as Tulip Mania, the search for the philosophers stone and the art of the Mineral Magnetisers among others.
Speaking ahead of the exhibition Jessica Ramm said: “Since the publication of MacKay’s account of 17th century Tulipmania, a cascade of bubbles have expanded and burst, including the dot-com bubble, uranium bubble, and numerous housing bubbles. In 2017 economists pronounced the arrival of ‘the everything bubble.’ When this bubble finally bursts, phantom speculative wealth and fictitious capital will be stripped from the financial system and excessive monetary liquidity will leak down the plughole. For the time being, consumption and desire continue to be propelled forward by waves of incurable and pernicious optimism, and it is likely that the enormity of our dilemma will only become visible on the horizon when it’s too late.
Narrative and metabolism are strange bedfellows, but they share a voracious appetite. In this exhibition I wanted to develop a greater understanding of human relationships with materials and the narrative contained within. Working in the print studio has allowed me to think about the choreography in making an image. Similar to my process with sculpture, it invites me to work in a responsive way seeing how the images develop on a blank piece of paper.”
Running parallel to Stumbling Block, in Gallery 1 is Entanglements of Time and Tide, a new exhibition exploring entanglements of ecology, industry, culture, politics and aesthetics by Indian artist Sonia Merha Chawla. Mehra Chawla’s artistic practice explores notions of selfhood, nature, ecology, sustainability and conservation. For Entanglements of Time and Tide she spent two years on three intensive residencies at the Marine Scotland Laboratory in Aberdeen, the ASCUS Laboratory at Summerhall and Edinburgh Printmakers. The result is an all encompassing exhibition featuring new commissions in print, video, living artworks of micro-biological organisms and representations of historical scientific material.
Stumbling Block: Jess Ramm
2 October to 12 November 2021
Gallery 2, Edinburgh Printmakers,
Castle Mills 1 Dundee Street, Edinburgh, EH3 9FP
Tuesday – Sunday 10am – 5pm