Nervous System

24 Jan–23 Feb 2020
Nervous System
Catherine Telford Keogh

The Globe and Mail, The Brooklyn Rail


Helena Anrather is pleased to present Nervous System, Catherine Telford Keogh’s first solo exhibition in New York, exploring the ways that social, technological and biological systems operate as both open and closed, private and public amalgams.

Telford Keogh’s sculptures and two-dimensional wall works investigate the nature of containing information as it continuously breaks down and re-generates in a highly complex site. Parameters in Telford Keogh’s work are set by diverse realities – physical, linguistic, metaphorical – yet the complex systems they contain always surpass these imposed limits. Three sculptures occupy the floor of the gallery, beckoning the viewer to inspect them from above in their petrified state. The seemingly disjointed materials in these receptacles are culled from diverse industries, including technology, food, and biomedicine. Enshrined in a shared, translucent matter, these disparate elements are enforced into a novel chain of associations. Recalling trash heaps as well as our own gastrointestinal organs, Telford Keogh’s sculptures paradoxically elicit both a sense of stasis, as they lock in their queer medleys, as well as the creeping sense of time, as substances inevitably and languorously disintegrate.

The typeface that coils around and frames the fused materials spells out an alliterative association between the works: community, commune, and cannibalism. All three words suggest a non-autonomous way of being that fundamentally affects our relation to, and produces the need for, more objects and the systems that are used to make sense of them. A site so heavily interactive will necessarily create pollution and, with it, the need for sanitization. Infinite Dreamscape with Paraphernalia Corroded and Distilled Gracefully presents a generic stock image file layered with these alliterative words, logos of oil corporations, and tentacles. This dense field of associations is seen through a film of Palmolive soap, literalizing the intimate relationship between filth and cleanliness.

Governed by the logic of extending and blending realms, virtual and real, two sculptures entitled Marlowe Bottomed Out Surfing New Lifestyles and Agatha Bottomed Out Watching Late Night T.V. question the limits of this enmeshed space. The ergonomic design of the deconstructed gamer chairs included in these systems reflects fantasy over efficiency; while they appear to enhance the performance and comfort of the gamer, in reality the chairs’ configurations stem from aesthetic connotations of luxury, comfort, and contemporaneity. Equipment within these cubicle-like environments house EXXONMOBIL oils as well as Biopure disinfectant in cast acrylic containers, creating a false sense of stability wherein one can mitigate the discharge of the other. Telford Keogh’s sculptures foreground the fluid cohabitation of incongruous matter while highlighting the excessive output that capitalism engenders.

Loreta Lamargese

Catherine Telford Keogh (Canadian, b. 1986) holds an MFA in Sculpture from Yale School of Art where she received the Fannie B. Pardee Prize and an MAR in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies from Yale. Selected exhibitions include, Seattle Art Museum, Washington; Bronx Museum, New York; Galerie Antoine Ertaskiran, Montreal; Vox Populi, Pennsylvania; Greenpoint Film Festival, Brooklyn, New York. Recent solo exhibitions include FLAT FOOD at Roberta Palen, Toronto; Source Supplements at Evans Contemporary, Peterborough; SoftFocus® at Planet Storage/Bunker 2, Toronto; and Dental Dam at University of Waterloo Art Gallery, Waterloo. Telford Keogh is a current artist-in-residence at the Pelling Laboratory for Augmented Biology at the University of Ottawa exploring DNA growth in industrialized food and  plastic scaffolds. She lives and works in Toronto.

Catherine Telford Keogh would like to acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council and Toronto Arts Council.