Mary Anne Francis
This Is Not An Art Show:
On Mixed Forms Of Visual Culture
29 January – 11 March 2022
Handel Street Projects is pleased to announce a show of new work by Mary Anne Francis. More visual essay than artwork, this exhibition builds on her recently published book, Mixed Forms of Visual Culture: From the Cabinet of Curiosities to Digital Diversity (Bloomsbury 2021), with a wall-based text that finds hybrid forms in all kind of cultural spaces: from carnivals to cyborgs, gadgetry to gastronomy and agitprop to architecture. It asks us to review our thoughts about the hodgepodge when presented with the latter’s eclectic history.
Inevitably, perhaps, when this project is materialised as a sprawl of A4 printouts and old postcards, Aby Warburg’s Mnemosyne Atlas is never far away. But here is an Atlas – in its early stages – for the Anthropocene, which, in prospecting the creative principle of synthesis, regards that as productive and problematic.
Likewise, if Atlas invokes the idea of taxonomy – via its themes and motifs – This is Not an Art Show refuses the comfort of the category as its organising principle. Decisions about what goes where have been outsourced to a randomising method in order to maximise the possibility of new forms emerging across existing hybrids. And formal mixture is extended further by the offer of a DIY version of the archive, which visitors can purchase at a modest price.
Presented as hard-copy, the essay has been made possible by two digital databases: Wikimedia Commons (to which a percentage of sales income will be donated) and ebay.
Since the 1990s, Mary Anne Francis has been working in the expanded – perhaps ‘mixed’ – field of contemporary art practice, with an extensive output across exhibitions, writing and lecturing. This has often been characterised by a preoccupation with the multifarious – for instance, Mary Anne Francis: Group Show at Beaconsfield, London. Elsewhere, she has devolved formal diversity to the viewer with interactive work such as ‘High Art Light’ for The Multiple Store, and ‘The Blooming Commons’ for Open Congress at Tate Britain. Mary Anne’s writing about the heterogeneous has been published in a range of venues including Third Text, as part of an output that spans over 40 publications. Mixed Forms of Visual Culture represents the most extensive articulation of this project to date, and as it includes two visual essays, a significant demonstration of her commitment to formal transgression. Mary Anne is currently Principal Lecturer in Fine Art at the University of Brighton.
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