Scissors Cut Paper Wrap Stone

Scissors Cut Paper Wrap Stone is an exhibition that takes its title from a 1994 book by Belfast-based science fiction writer Ian McDonald. In the book, McDonald describes a young graphic design student, Ethan Ring, who is able to create images that bypass rational thought and control the mind of the viewer. The ability of Ethan Ring’s images to induce tears or ecstasy, to heal, and even to kill people, attracts the interests of governmental forces, who see the opportunities of harnessing this power for their own ends. As well as being a story of art’s capacities to change people’s emotional and physical behaviour, Scissors Cut Paper Wrap Stone is a story of the artist’s struggle to manage these responsibilities.

The exhibition of the same name is not a direct response to the narrative of this story, but, instead, stages a number of artworks that explore ideas of how our perceptual and physical behaviours are transfigured by objects, images, and new technologies. Included in the exhibition are works that reference the way that the physical actions of the body are anticipated by design, such as the animated character of self-assembly furniture in Eva Fàbregas’s video installation The role of unintended consequences (Sofa Compact).    

Also included in the exhibition are works that suggest the body in a ‘post-human’ state – the puppetry in Andrew Norman Wilson’s Reality Models; in John Russell’s large print Parallel Domination Facility; and in Pakui Hardware’s series of free-standing sculptural works that contain fleshy images of indeterminable organic or artificial matter, sourced from NASA’s archive. A violence upon the body is suggested in works by Clawson & Ward: their ‘branding iron’ sculpture and a print work, This ear says that the artist is not well schooled in anatomy… the ear screams and shouts against anatomy…, which shows an appropriated image of Joseph Stalin’s ear.

In Joey Holder’s new work The Evolution of the Spermalege, the artist presents a wallpaper print and 3D objects based on the genitalia and the ‘traumatic insemination’ practices of certain insects. In the visual re-scaling of this microscopic sex world, Holder’s work suggests a multispecies and symbiotic approach to sex and sexual bodies that goes beyond the privileges of the human. Throughout the exhibition, the body exists in fragments and is subject to various regimes of control, appropriation and imposition.

The physical human body is also implicated and imposed by works in the exhibition that require visitors to navigate artworks that have their own autonomous movements (Eva Fàbregas’s floor-based works, Self-Organising System, and Alan Butler’s Orphan Transposition series of spinning laser-etched acrylic panels, featuring out-of-copyright images of Yosemite National Park, freely circulating online). These works not only suggest the unfixed and fluid status of our own physical and perceptual bodies, but they also raise questions about the control of artistic authorship, one of the key metaphors of Ian McDonald’s story.

Admission is free and all are welcome.



Alan Butler, Clawson & Ward, Eva Fàbregas, Pakui Hardware, Joey Holder, John Russell, and Andrew Norman Wilson. Scissors Cut Paper Wrap Stone is co-curated by Alissa Kleist and Matt Packer. The exhibition originated at CCA Derry~Londonderry in Spring 2016 and toured to Uillinn: West Cork Arts Centre in Spring 2017 with an exclusive new commission by Jennifer Mehigan. A revised iteration with newly commissioned work by Joey Holder comes to Ormston House, made possible through the support of the Arts Council / Arts Council Northern Ireland Touring and Dissemination of Work Scheme. A publication and holographic poster designed by Alex Synge at The First 47 accompany the exhibition and are available to purchase at all venues. For sales queries and editorial notes, please contact 24 March - 27 May 2017 Image: photograph by Jed Niezgoda.
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