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Marine Snow
Paul McDevitt solo exhibition

Taiwan & Berlin International artists Exchange Exhibition

Date:2022/08/06(Sat.) ~ 2022/09/08(Thurs.)

Artist:Paul McDevitt

Venue:VT Artsalon

The title for the exhibition at VT art salon is Marine Snow, a term which refers to the organic matter which sinks down from the surface of the ocean into the dark depths. It’s a very poetic term, in contrast to a mundane meaning of decomposing matter sinking to the bottom. For me it suggests an interesting mix between high and low, between the poetic and the quotidian. I chose the title because there are two sides to the work that I’m showing at VT Artsalon. 

The exhibition consists of three bodies of work. First is a series of drawings with the collective title Notes to Self. These begin life as a notepad on my desk onto which I keep a daily record of reminders. I keep the sheets of paper and frequently return to them much later to work them into drawings. The drawings often pertain to elements of the notes, whether that’s in the content of the notes or the formal shape of a coffee stain or scribble. When I get stuck in the studio they’re a good way for me to kickstart things again because there is already something to respond to. In an odd way it’s a bit like a collaboration with an early version of myself. 

The second series consists of ten, two-colour silkscreen prints of Berlin doorbells. These are hyper-mundane images, but closer inspection reveals several things, from the design of functional objects to the layering of names as people move apartments, to the nationality of the occupants. 

What the two series have in common is that they refer to the experience of Berlin during the pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns. With life on hold, like many people I began to take long walks. Each morning I would take my camera me and walk the deserted streets. Through the lens I got into the habit of looking more closely at things, even though nothing dramatic ever happened and I was walking the same streets again and again. I began to notice the small details that you ordinarily pass by; the sprayed tag along the side of a bus shelter, the patchwork of names on doorbells, the variety of doorhandles, moss growing on a locked bike…

For me these details began to read like succinct poems – insignificant moments which punctuate the rhythms of the city. With repeated viewing they seemed more remarkable. I began to read the tags as a painterly act of civil disobedience at a time when we were required to be obedient. The doorbells not only showed the names of those people locked in their apartments, but also a palimpsest of changing tenants in a city with surging rents. The handles were on doors that couldn’t be opened. Bikes once used to commute now a rotting testament to home office…

The third body of work will be made while the exhibition is open. I shall be taking a slow road trip to visit the Venice Biennale, passing through the Dolomite mountains, Milan, and Verona. As I travel I will send drawings and photographs directly to a printer situated in VT Artsalon. This work continues where the first two series ended, with Europe open once again and travel resuming. The images will be improvised en route, and hung straight on the wall as the record of a journey slowly revealed.