Maeve Brennan and Sophie Jung — Broken in Three Places
31.8 — 31.10 23
Maeve Brennan and Sophie Jung — Broken in Three Places
31.8 — 31.10 23

Maeve Brennan and Sophie Jung
opening 31 August, 6pm
curated by School for Curatorial Studies Venice

A plus A Gallery and The School for Curatorial Studies is excited to present Broken in Three Places, an exhibition featuring works by the multidisciplinary artists Sophie Jung and Maeve Brennan. From August 31 to October 31, visitors are invited to engage with a plurality of layered narratives in Maeve Brennan’s and Sophie Jung’s
work through moving image, photography and sculpture.

Broken in Three Places brings together two practices that are both invested in an archaeology of “things”, uncovering the complex histories and narratives that objects carry and produce, exploring how the diverse perspectives placed upon them and expectations of them can be dismantled and reinformed. Revealing the objects relationship to our social functions as they relate to use, manipulation, monetary, symbolic and historical value, this show proposes to unveil and re-veil all the mechanisms and magic tricks these objects perform to both represent and produce the worlds that we inhabit.

Maeve Brennan’s investigations into the circulation of objects –looted, trafficked, traded – reveal the concealed histories of cultural artefacts and their place within systems of power and knowledge. In The Berlin Goddess (2023) four photographs depict an ancient Greek female head provisionally staged in a domestic interior.
Discovered in the archive of John Marshall (official agent to the Metropolitan Museum of Art from 1904–26) these photographs open up a world of backstage dealings that constitute the collections of the most renowned museums. Pomegranate (2023) and Fruit Crates (2023) draw oblique connections to the complete goddess and her speculative movement in pieces. Staged Fragments (2022) adopts the language of market objects, presenting fragmented looted vases against ‘neutral’ colour backdrops as an expert’s hand silently guides us through hand painted stories from the underworld. In these works, the actions of dealers, looters and smugglers become part of a tangible material process that pulls at the distinction between licit and illicit cultural traffic.

Jung’s work wrestles with what she calls “material solidarity”, a supportive unity of material and materialist difference. Her assemblages are careful compositions balancing things, more precisely their histories, cultural and socioeconomic associations, their ascribed use or representative values and, more visibly, their
aesthetic qualities. These heterogenic body-forming clans then stand in for the production of new narratives, something the artist does by writing them polyvocal scripts she performs at them often as critique of the mechanisms of patriarchy- powered capitalism that calls those very objects into subjugated positions. Jung’s
work is at heart and head a work of resistance, disentangling, reterritorializing, and above all giving back life to what is otherwise lost. It is a work of speculative recuperation.

In Broken in Three Places, Sophie responds to the archaeological layerings of Maeve’s work with figurative assemblages of put-to-use again bodies. Here then, the Berlin Goddess of Brennan’s work is given her due place in renewed articulations of power and the  reclamation of an otherwise strangulated voice through figures that
self-distil their own historical layering, offering a temporary prosthesis. In solidarity with her having been dissected, materials come together to give her a temporary body. What they have in common is that the works here all relate to fragments of an
absent whole: rudely roused in economies of theft of various forms, they trace back a historical materialist or fictional narrative, all the while also being celebrated in their contemporary partialness. Jung’s assemblages urge for a reckoning that parallels the discreet dissections of Brennan’s positions.

Maeve Brennan’s practice explores the political and historical resonance of material and place. Working across moving image, installation, sculpture and printed matter, her works excavate layered histories, revealing the unseen or hidden structures that determine our lived environment. She develops long-term investigations led by personal encounters, often drawing on forms of expertise that encompass a material practice – geologists, archaeologists, conservationists – with a particular focus on repair.

Recent solo exhibitions include Horses and Angels, Galerie fur
Gegenwartskunst, E-WERK Freiburg; An Excavation, Stanley Picker
Gallery, London; Listening in the Dark, Mother’s Tankstation, Dublin; The Drift, Chisenhale Gallery, London; The Drift, Spike Island, Bristol; The Goods, Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria. Brennan’s work was featured in British Art Show 9 (2021 – 22) and her films have been screened internationally. She received the Jerwood/FVU
Award (2018), Paul Hamlyn Award for Artists (2021) and was the Stanley Picker Fine Art Fellow (2019–22). She was awarded the Sainsbury Scholarship at the British School at Rome (2023) and is currently in residence at Somerset House Studios, London. She is an associate lecturer at Royal College of Art and Goldsmiths.

Sophie Jung works across text, sculpture and performance. Her sculptural work consists of bodies made up of found objects – often ones that have been rejected for their initial use. In her work, she connects their diverse qualities – be that phonetic, etymological, associative, material, formal, anecdotal, historical or personal to produce both assemblages as well as performable scripts, that aim at excavating minor legibilities. She combines them into fragmented bodies and narratives that amplify a critique of power debatably already inherent in the manner of their production and the fact of their existence.

Jung received her BFA from the Rietveld Academy, Amsterdam and her MFA from Goldsmiths, London. Recent solo exhibitions include Sanetroyem at E.A.Shared Space, They Might Stay The Night at Casino Luxembourg; Unsetting at Istituto Svizzero, Milan; Taxpayer’s’ Money for Frieze LIVE, Dramatis Personae at JOAN, LA; The Bigger Sleep at Kunstmuseum Basel; Come Fresh Hell or Fresh High Water at Blain Southern, London; Producing My Credentials at Kunstraum London; Paramount VS Tantamount at Kunsthalle Basel and Äppärät at Ballroom Marfa. In 2016 and in 2019 Sophie Jung won the Swiss Art Awards and in 2018 she was the recipient of the Manor Kunstpreis. From 2016 to 2019 she was on the jury of the Swiss Performance Art Award and is a new member to the board of Kunsthalle Basel.

With thanks to the British School at Rome (Image credits: BSR Research Collections, John Marshall Archive, jm-0789, jm-0787, jm-0791 and jm-0790).


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