A. Blair Clemo
In the Absence of Grey
January 26–February 19
The Anderson is pleased to present In the Absence of Grey, an exhibition from A. Blair Clemo, Assistant Professor of Craft/Material Studies at VCU.
“We don’t have a word for non-linear in our languages because nobody would consider travelling, thinking or talking in a straight path in the first place. The winding path is just how a path is, and therefore it needs no name.” – Tyson Yunkaporta, Sand Talk
You see, empathy cannot exist on a pre-determined path. The straight line, from the very moment it strikes out from a singular point of origin, is destined to arrive unkinked at point B. It must plow through anything it encounters, unpersuaded, to yield even one degree is to destroy its very identity. The slightest bend and it fails, forever incorrect. An institution, perfectly efficient, nothing wasted. Point – line – point, that’s its life’s work.
The serpentine line is empathetic. It is always wrong by comparison, in fact, it has no correct path at all. There is only one thing it cannot be, inflexible. Its destination is anywhere it chooses to stop, and it’s really just a pause, its ramble is its reason. Words fail to contain its infinite possibilities – What shape is a serpentine line? Well, what does pain feel like?
I think the color grey is like that too. There are at least 7.8 billion shades. In the absence of grey, we are left with only the saturated disorientation of black and white. Ends of a spectrum always have the most power, the easiest points to name and align with our world view. Who has the time for all that grey anyway, we’ve got a destination to march towards.
“There’s battle lines being drawn, nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong.” – Buffalo Springfield, For What it’s Worth (recorded 1966).
This column has lost plumb. The sun is at perfect apex directly overhead, yet one long side is dark with its own shadow. That same shadow has begun to stretch out on the pavement, slowly plotting the direction of its lean, telegraphing the place it will inevitably topple.
But you know how light plays tricks…
Simply begin to side-step, so slowly you don’t even notice you are moving. Stop once you align yourself with the shade. Now bend over backwards, chin up, tilt your whole body back, weight on your heels. Now wait for the light to change, for the shadows to calm, wait until the sky is a single tone of concrete grey. You may even have to squint your eyes a bit to see how true this column stands. And even if your eyes close, just stand there and imagine the capital perfectly aligned over its base, centered. Now hold this position, become entrenched in this place. Oppose those who don’t see, after all, only you are standing where this truth is clear. There is no danger of being crushed by a sudden uproot. This column is perfectly plumb.