Relative Strength

Arcadia Missa is pleased to present a site specific installation of video and ceramic works by Phoebe Collings­-James. The installation presents objects as if suspended in motion, or repurposed outside their standard material form. Some of the objects hold water, others soil, plastic or cacti, listening to the cycle of degradation. Collings-James' strategy of display is akin to that of her making: considering objects outside of western philosophical assumptions and hierarchies regarding subject and object. The treatment of materials and the nod to the works as in flux allows the objects to be more than just surveilled, it is an attempt to enable them to be disruptive. It is this tension in Collings­-James' thoughtful practice of assemblage that aims to disrupt and entangle any fixed ideas of representation.

The title Relative Strength is taken from Fanon's text Wretched of the Earth; it describes the singular binary of revolution that requires a propulsion of violence from the side of the oppressed. It is a phrase that has become recurrent in the artist's practice, both resonating as a wider truth as well as an attitude towards her relationship with the materials she uses ­to constrict, tug and hold the forms in her work.

Moving beyond a binary, and into poetics or fission for subversion, the 16mm video work Mother Tongue, Mother Master exposes the erotics of shame and the axis it bares within the body. The voice is bound by constraints put onto the body and its histories, different modes for a voice reach for the possibility of a subjecthood, of agency, resistance in slippery blackness, from the starting point of born objecthood, commodity.

For Collings­-James, the process of ceramics, of making on a wheel, becomes enzyme­-like in its ability to facilitate a movement in the object and all those who interact with it: “I could call them live and active gut cultures or subaltern spirit guides or the detritus of devotional memorabilia.”