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Decay - Installation shot 11 - Katherine Murphy
Decay - Installation shot 01 - Katherine Murphy
Decay - Installation shot 17 - Katherine Murphy

Patrick Heide Contemporary Art is pleased to announce Katherine Murphy’s first solo exhibition at the gallery.

Decay presents recent works by the British artist, which investigate the world of labour from different perspectives and the conditions under which specific acts of work are carried out: from the uniformity of daily routines to the monotonous activities of factory or minimum wage workers. Repetition, being so integral to the action/gesture of work, thereby becomes an important aspect in the artistic expression and eventually the display of the resulting work of art.

The series Labour + Repetition = Decay is exemplary for this clash of a repetitive, even absurd work task, folding a sheet of paper hundreds of times in the same way, which results paradoxically in a beautiful work of art. Equally discordant appears the work Decay by 100,000 pinholes, which is presented in the upper gallery. Composed of 100.000 pinholes, as the title reveals, the work is a tremendously laborious task in which the artist arranges a system of pinholes until they dissolve.

The conceptual approach behind Murphy’s artistic practice rules these repetitive sequences of operations. She absorbs the methodology to such extent that the labour aspect overrules the creative process. Hours over hours, days after days, sometimes up to six months working on one single artwork. The title of the show hints at the intensity and laboriousness behind her approach, which can lead to rupture and destruction. However, when looking at the works themselves nothing of this is perceptible. What we instead experience are formally strong and aesthetically appealing works in often bright colours. Only on closer examination we note the cuts, the cracks and fissures; witnesses of the intense labour processes. 

Murphy herself describes her impetus as follows: “I have always used labour as a material in my work; to fulfil and thus expose alienating work tasks, to explore a work system, to discuss value given to different workers’ time. Often it is my repeated labour that creates the work, hours of small labours, repeated, daily, weekly, monthly, creating a vast visceral display. Here, I have again used repetitious labour as a material, but fixed it in place, repeated it in place; in this way I create and utilise a new material, that of decay. Some of the works are comprised simply of labour and paper; the paper is the support for the labour, exposing the decay. Decay speaks to the experience of such work acts on the human body, the human psyche.”

Next to the above described series, Katherine Murphy is also showing an ongoing series entitled Arkwright Work Tasks, in which the artist is re-sorting old library cards according to ever changing categories and drawing the allocation system onto a printed version of the cards. The filing tasks can be anything from alphabetical to filing by number of characters in first word.

Katherine Murphy holds a Masters in Fine Art from The Slade School of Fine Art; she lives and works in London, UK.