Emi­ly Floyd
Anti-total­i­tar­i­an Vectors

13th July – 17th August 2019
Anna Schwartz Gallery

Not all philo­soph­i­cal Char­ac­ters are shaped the same way, but they are most­ly (orig­i­nal­ly) cre­at­ed from the words of ordi­nary lan­guage. Only trans­la­tion alien­ates these char­ac­ters from their orig­i­nal birth­place and trans­forms them into free-float­ing categories…

– Ágnes Heller, A Phi­los­o­phy of His­to­ry in Frag­ments (Wiley-Black­well, 1993)

Anti-total­i­tar­i­an Vec­tors belongs to a series of infor­mal libraries and dia­grams assem­bled by Emi­ly Floyd that con­flate child­hood space with polit­i­cal phi­los­o­phy, acti­vat­ing the urgent lega­cy of twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry anti-total­i­tar­i­an strug­gle. The exhi­bi­tion is con­ceived as a com­pendi­um of typo­graph­ic arte­facts and propo­si­tion­al objects which togeth­er form a library and gar­den, ded­i­cat­ed to the Hun­gar­i­an philoso­pher Ágnes Heller.

Anti-total­i­tar­i­an Vec­tors con­sid­ers the thing­ness’ of lan­guage and its role as a cre­ator of worlds”. Through close atten­tion to Heller’s texts, the exhi­bi­tion com­pris­es philo­soph­i­cal motifs drawn from A Phi­los­o­phy of His­to­ry in Frag­ments’, includ­ing the Owl of Min­er­va, and a fam­i­ly of Umlauts, or The Philo­soph­i­cal Char­ac­ters in Order of Appear­ance”. These dis­parate ele­ments togeth­er form a gar­den of med­i­c­i­nal herbs.

Owl of Minerva

The Owl of Min­er­va is cast by the artist as a snowy owl hold­ing a lantern whose light guides view­ers through the instal­la­tion. An emblem of con­ti­nen­tal phi­los­o­phy – in Greek and Roman mythol­o­gy the owl of Min­er­va is a sym­bol of knowl­edge and insight, the famil­iar and non-human com­pan­ion of Athena or Min­er­va, god­dess of wis­dom. For Heller, after Hegel, Phi­los­o­phy is the owl of Min­er­va; it casts a ret­ro­spec­tive glance. Spec­u­la­tive think­ing is this ret­ro­spec­tive glance.” For Hegel, the owl of Min­er­va spreads its wings only with the falling of the dusk – mean­ing that phi­los­o­phy comes to under­stand a his­tor­i­cal con­di­tion just as it pass­es away.

Umlauts

An umlaut (/ oo m‑lout /) is used over a vow­el, as in the Hun­gar­i­an or Ger­man lan­guages, to indi­cate a dif­fer­ent vow­el qual­i­ty, usu­al­ly fronting or round­ing. The sculp­tur­al Umlauts envi­sion spec­u­la­tive frag­ments of a Hun­gar­i­an let­ter­press, cast in bronze with black pati­na, for type­set­ting a library of The Budapest School – a philo­soph­i­cal cir­cle whose core group found exile in Aus­tralia between 19771986. In her 1976 text The The­o­ry of Need in Marx’ (Alli­son & Bus­by), Heller pro­pos­es that objects bring about” needs, and needs bring about” objects. The need and its objects are moments’, sides’ of one-in-the-same com­plex.” Heller’s the­o­ry is evoked to con­sid­er how con­tem­po­rary forces bring new objects into the world.

Monoliths

A recur­rent motif in Floyd’s work is the library. A series of struc­tured, archi­tec­tur­al edi­fices inscribed with dynam­ic, geo­met­ric com­po­si­tions holds space and the objects con­tained with­in, cre­at­ing a gar­den of ideas. Six free-stand­ing, archi­tec­tural­ly-scaled, alu­mini­um sculp­tures or book forms fea­ture abstrac­tions of orig­i­nal book cov­ers of Györ­gy Lukács, Heller and The Budapest School, includ­ing Lukács’ Tac­tics and Ethics’ (New Left Books, 1972), Heller’s The The­o­ry of Need in Marx’, the Hun­gar­i­an jour­nal Tisza­táj’ and Aus­tralian jour­nal The­sis Eleven’.

Anti-total­i­tar­i­an Vectors 

For the occa­sion of the exhi­bi­tion Floyd has pro­duced a screen­print poster port­fo­lio based on jour­nal and book cov­ers of texts by Lukács, Heller and The Budapest School. Floyd’s extend­ed title-page for the edi­tion spec­u­lates on the lim­its and pos­si­bil­i­ties of the archival turn in con­tem­po­rary art.

Images

Emi­ly Floyd

Owl of Minerva, 2019
owl: cast alu­mini­um, two-part epoxy paint
lantern: cast and fab­ri­cat­ed alu­mini­um, light­ing insert
150130.6599.7 cm
Edi­tion of 3

Emi­ly Floyd

Anti-total­i­tar­i­an Vectors, 2019
30 screen prints on Arch­es BFK Rives paper, screen­print films, title page and archival box
4159.5 cm (each)

Emi­ly Floyd

Umlauts, 2019
cast bronze with black patina
Set of three sculp­tures: 614315 cm; 40.527.910 cm; 8155.820 cm
Edi­tion of 4

Emi­ly Floyd

Exhi­bi­tion view, Anti-total­i­tar­i­an Vec­tors”, Anna Schwartz Gallery, 2019
Pho­to: Zan Wimberley

Emi­ly Floyd

Exhi­bi­tion view, Anti-total­i­tar­i­an Vec­tors”, Anna Schwartz Gallery, 2019
Pho­to: Zan Wimberley

Emi­ly Floyd

Exhi­bi­tion view, Anti-total­i­tar­i­an Vec­tors”, Anna Schwartz Gallery, 2019
Pho­to: Zan Wimberley

Emi­ly Floyd

Exhi­bi­tion view, Anti-total­i­tar­i­an Vec­tors”, Anna Schwartz Gallery, 2019
Pho­to: Zan Wimberley

Emi­ly Floyd

Exhi­bi­tion view, Anti-total­i­tar­i­an Vec­tors”, Anna Schwartz Gallery, 2019
Pho­to: Zan Wimberley