This show is about ideas, likes and dislikes. And as far as we can know anything about anyone else, it’s dependant on how much we can put ourselves in the place of the other, of their likes and dislikes. It’s more or less a form of collaboration.
Tom Benson: So, two characters in the background would be Marcel Duchamp and John Cage. John Cage having written a piece of music called Music for Marcel Duchamp for a film by Hans Richter, with a little excerpt in it on Duchamp. It was one of the very, very early prepared piano pieces by Cage and it’s a relatively short piece, but in it… I’ve thought for a long time that it encapsulates a particular quality, which is a quality of thought happening rather than having happened. There are points, in the way that the rhythm is built up and held, where it hovers before some sort of direction is taken. I didn’t think to look up very much about the piece when I first heard it, but when I finally did, years later, I was surprised to discover that it was one of the first pieces that Cage had written where he deliberately tried to explore silence in a structured way. So there are bars of silence and bars of sound. These gaps, or these spaces, were spaces that I felt somehow offered me the ability to enter into the piece with my own thinking. Spaces for thought, if you will, within the music, rather than a wall of sound that is all-invading. And also with Cage, as we know, there is an interest in the I Ching and various strategies that were used to generate musical compositions that would remove him to some extent from a more authoritative position of his own subjectivity.
The idea of the grid—I was struggling with how to bring a number of disparate works together into a space and give them the same space. It was a question of how to address the space as well as the works within it, in a subtle but determined way. I was thinking about devising a band system, so there would be three bands, a tripartite division running horizontally around the space. It could be black, white, grey, whatever. It would give me different tiers to include works that could exist above, along side, in parallel, askance from other works. But I thought that that would almost be too crude. A much, much simpler way was just a very lightly drawn, using a 4H pencil, linear grid that would run across all the wall surfaces from floor to ceiling, that would give a more planular space, a more extensive space, so that it didn’t feel—because of the proportion, because it’s 50 centimetres across every facet of the space—it wouldn’t feel like, ‘that’s at the top, and that’s at the bottom’. Just, ‘it’s located on the grid’. It equalises the space.
For the name of the show, I was first thinking along the lines of ‘rhyme and reason’, rather than ‘rhyme or reason’, to include the analytic and conceptual as well as the emotive and the subjective. Because it seems to me that some of the most interesting works do thathowever obdurate they might be, there is a sort of feeling of a mind at work, the mind that brought that thing into existence. But in having a dialogue with so many artists about their work and realising that I was being shown things I wouldn’t have thought about otherwise, and also in being slightly worried that ‘rhyme and reason’ sounded almost too clear and understandable… to come across this term ‘mind rhyme’—which does exist—I thought was fantastic, because it included both the conceptual and the poetic, the rhyme and the reason, but in a much more interesting way. A mind rhyme is a situation set up through language, poetry, rhyming, where the mind will anticipate the word that’s coming next. So it’s possible to have a joke, a pun, an innuendo. A lot of these things revolve around a mind rhyme. But I was more thinking about, if you like, a visual mind rhyme, where you are presented with one artist’s work, and you might begin to develop an understanding of that work, but because of what else is situated with it, you are somewhat confounded, or are lead to a point where there’s a kind of bifurcation, or split, and the directions are unpredictable. It creates another type of gap for the mind to work with, a space between what might have been anticipated and all kinds of unexpected associations.
In thinking about another person’s work, it enters into my frame of reference and it becomes sort of a touchstone, and an important thing. It influences my own thinking. It’s a form of collaboration.
— As told to Kyra Kordoski