Jesse Darling

Jesse Darling lives and works between London and Berlin and works in sculpture, installation, text, sound, and drawing. Their work and research is broadly centered on narratives of power, technology and subjectivity, and how these are produced and maintained. They have received commissions from Volksbühne Berlin, MoMA Warsaw and The Serpentine Gallery among others. Recent projects include solo exhibitions at Chapter, New York; Sultana Gallery, Paris; and Arcadia Missa, London. Darling have published texts in print and online including The Best British Poetry 2015 (Salt Press); Mass Effect: Art and the Internet in the 21st Century (MIT Press, 2015); and Art After the Internet (Cornerhouse Books, 2014).

Location: Tallinn
Jesse Darling The Great Near Exhibition view, Arcadia Missa, London, 2016 Courtesy Arcadia Missa, London

There are limbs made of metal, wood, plastic, and everyday things reaching far beyond your own height. The materials that make up these appendages and structures remind you of the spaces where you have encountered them before – in hospital corridors, hardware stores, and garden centres with both an indoor and an outdoor section and a small café serving coffees with too-frothy, burnt milk. Coming back to the room, you notice that the materials seem to be in the process of forming. You also consider that they might in fact be in a process of un-forming. Is un-forming just destruction? Or de-construction? Regardless, these materials, objects, things are not fixed. This is not their final state – they are either caught in a moment too early or too late to be complete. There are traces of contact with both human hand and tools or machinery – scuffs, marks, scratches – but there are either too many or not enough.


In walking among these objects, you come across symbols, words and phrases that sit in contrast to the character of the space you find yourself in. They seem to be speaking to another space or another time or another iteration of the space you are occupying. The verticals of metal and wood are imperfect, and with the eye lead through curvatures and lines of vision. The physical and mental presence of these characters solidify as much as they can. And as much as they can solidify or fix is never fully. Fragmentation – a more physical, visible cousin or sister of dissolution – lingers within the spaces of these beings. Both adorned and scaffolded by sheets, placards, plastic decorations and bin bags, you comprehend a precarity present within them. It is an understanding not that happens through looking-then-processing, but instead occurs within an understanding from your skin that it is close to one solid thing, and closer to this other less solid thing that flutters more violently the more you near it. It is at this point you consider your own body and its many fragments, moving in unison and a bodily choreography that could betray the intelligence that each component part holds.


You move your right arm upwards, slowly, similar to the way that you used to make it move seemingly on its own accord. When, as a child, you pushed it against a doorframe for a half a minute, waiting for the inevitable floating feeling that occurred once you stepped over that threshold. And so your arm moved upwards, and the objects within the space moved with it. This was not a mirroring, this was not a depiction, this was a moment of understanding between yourself and these objects and materials that have faced violence and fracturing. And with this shared fallibility acknowledged you turn and leave the room behind. With a closing of the heavy door the verticals and horizontals of the room shudder.


Seán Elder