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Sophie Egleton finds practice makes perfect in David Dixon’s new installation.
This week sees the opening of Entangled Practice at Art Jericho, an exhibition of striking sculptural design, steeped in scientific research, by installation artist David Dixon.
Dixon, whose work is often created out of books, has been keen to exhibit in Oxford, the city of learning and literature, for several years. In this resulting exhibition, a stone’s throw from one of the most famous printing houses in the world, Oxford University Press, Dixon takes inspiration from his surrounding environment.
On entering Art Jericho I was met by a dominating pillar of books, reaching high above me to the ceiling. This is accompanied by a series of further textbooks, anonymous in title and covered in dust, they tessellate across the floor. A second, lighter, chamber follows as one weaves through to a space, divided by pillars of the very cardboard boxes used to deliver the books.
A third, more exposed space, reveals an eruption of colour as further books pave the floor in semi-order.
Beyond aesthetically pleasing shapes, Dixon’s research into physics and philosophy has greatly influenced his work. Dixon sees his sculptures as a reinterpretation of ideas he is playing with; a working sketch book to make sense of scientific ideas in a non-scientific environment. One construction of books is reminiscent of a bricked well, a deep black hole you can stare down into, possibly limitless and never-ending. Dixon creates perimeters and boundaries, some passable, as you meander around his structures.
The viewer engages in an experiential process of moving through the different areas of space, transitioning from dark to light, monotone to rich and multi-coloured. It is easy to feel “entangled” in his work and it is this uncertainty of divisions and impermanence that Dixon is devoted to exploring.
Presented with books donated by Oxford University Press and Oxfam, Dixon has produced the show as a site-specific exhibition, building forms around the existing architecture of Art Jericho.
Entangled Practice pivots on the optimistic promise inscribed along the base of the Pillars of Hercules – “Many will pass through and knowledge will be the greater”.
Dixon further explores the relationship between viewer and structure. As in reading a book, the identity of the work depends on your view of it.
His use of dust and books as building blocks presents the challenge and pleasure of viewing objects as a part but also a whole. Dust when viewed from afar is a unified blanket, up close, thousands of tiny individual particles. Dixon believes making sense in a world where age-old certainties are under considerable scrutiny is an ever-increasing challenge.
* Entangled Practice, by David Dixon, at Art Jericho, 6 King Street, Oxford, until September 5; Wednesday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm, or by appointment. Free.