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Light the lamp rarely, let the shadow come




How many artists: 

How many exhibition works:

Friday, 5 May 2023 to Sunday, 2 July 2023
Thursday, 4 May 2023 - 7:00pm

... as the light of a lamp goes wavering at night over hedges in the darkness [1], we are pushed and squeezed, devoured with long covetous eyes. Stuff become animate, dropped and concealed with a troubling air of mystery, thick and heavy, exhaling a tempting odour, expanding, subtle and warm, as if on fleshy shoulders... [2] In twilight, the familiar becomes strange, distances hard to measure, time and space are stretched, layered, and collapsed.

Night walks in South London are an important part Emma Tod’s practice. Not only challenging what can be seen, but who should be seen, where, for what reason? Walking at night can be a way of disappearing, of becoming invisible, and of simultaneously becoming hyper-visible and singular. Night walking can be to challenge to paternalist orthodoxy. So too can painting.

Tod’s paintings explore the remediation of paint in a period of digital image circulation, with its accelerating speeds of transmission and shared attention deficit. Works negotiate this shift through stillness and ambiguity. Peripheral events, fleeting moments and chance encounters are brought to the centre creating new imaginary territories. Visual fragments taken from the internet, TV, and art history are playfully recombined and erased. Zones of exclusion are brought to the fore, challenging the primacy of centre over periphery. Exclusion matters.

Layers of transparent glaze are built upon carefully prepared surfaces in order to create a shallow depth of field that replicates the luminosity of the screen. Here, figurative and non-figurative elements meet, collide, and are altered by each other. Dynamic, subjective and fluctuating areas of colour and bodies of paint currently emerging can be expanded and foregrounded. Ambiguity invites us to speculate, to create meaning playfully, slightly, offering a counterpoint to the directed and surveilled nature of our digital lives.

The title of Tod’s solo exhibition at IMT is taken from Michel Serres’ (1985) The Five Senses, which speaks of the fragility of the empirical world and information technology in late capitalist society.

Lee Mackinnon

[1] Virginia Woolf (1925) Mrs Dalloway
[2] Adapted from Emile Zola (1883) The Ladies Paradise


Artist ( Description ): 

Emma studied painting at Falmouth School of Art before gaining her MFA in Fine Art Media at The Slade School of Art, University College London. She was selected for the Bloomberg New Contemporaries and has been a member of a number of artists run organisations including Gasworks, Lux Critical Forum and The Lost Soul and Stranger Service Station. She has exhibited extensively in the UK and abroad including the ICA and the Royal Academy and has attended residencies in Budapest and Cape Town. Emma is a Lecturer in Fine Art and Contextual Practice at Central St. Martins, University of the Arts London.

Other Info: 

Two public workshops will accompany the exhibition. A cyanotype workshop invites participants to create their own camera-less photographic prints, and sound therapist Carlo Volpi will use the exhibition space as a backdrop for participants to immerse themselves in a percussive sound bath. These workshops are free to residents of Tower Hamlets. An essay written by Cherry Smyth will further unpack the themes and concerns explored in the work and will be freely available in print and online.

Venue ( Address ): 

Unit 2/210 Cambridge Heath Road, London, E2 9NQ

IMT Gallery , London

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