Olivia Guigue: Tamesiology

SE8 Gallery is pleased to present the exhibition Tamesiology by French artist Olivia Guigue, her first solo show in the UK. The work is the result of her residency at the gallery: an extended period that began at the inception of the pandemic during which the artist undertook regular visits to the Thames’s foreshore in London to retrieve material gifted by the tidal river. In order to chronicle the exceptional diversity of the site, Guigue classified both natural and artificial substances that reveal the contemporary geological formation of the riverbed.
Guigue’s field work underscores the emergence of the Anthropocene – a new unit in geological time marked by humans – through the evidence of identifiable specimens of man-made origin in the strata record. The keystone of this mutable classification is a new taxonomy called Pseudo-mineral which gathers plastic samples that resemble minerals and rocks. Seen alongside natural elements, some of these objects appear almost identical, a mimetic trick of perception that may visually align a four-hundred-year-old eroded bone and a ten-year-old abraded piece of cinder block.
The resulting display using tables and vitrines echoes that of a museum of natural history, but though the taxonomies are precise and exacting, they do not follow established scientific conventions; rather, Guigue asks us to consider her findings in an aesthetic manner as well, perhaps to treat them as marvels that reveal a certain poetic thinking -portraying the march of decay and extinction as a process of crystallization – able to impart new truths to the world of the living.
The displays will undergo subtle but regular changes as the artist continues to work in the gallery, adding and removing specimens. Contrary to exhibitions that feature static displays, her project provides a working, living environment punctuated by an evolving practice.
The exhibition is accompanied by a publication on the project with texts by the curators, which will be launched at the finissage on Sunday the 5th of December from 4pm. There will be a first guided foreshore walk with the artist on Saturday the 30th of October at 12:30 leaving from SE8 Gallery.