Touching from a Distance

My heading comes from Joy Division’s ‘Transmission’, and given that the band also recorded ‘Isolation’, they must be the go-to musical precursors of our current ‘social distancing’. What about visual artists?

Well, Sam Jackson’s ‘Touching from a Distance’, 2019, incorporates Ian Curtis’ words along with Joy Division song titles. It’s typical of Jackson’s way of conjoining public and private – suggesting internal thoughts through fragmented quotations, and possible appearances through corruptions of received images – so that, as Christine Coulson has put it, you ‘see souls and hear voices’.

Edward Hopper’s paintings are often interpreted as depicting loneliness. ‘Eleven a.m.’ 1926 might be seen as going a little further than that, restricting of  female sexuality by locking a nude into her domestic interior. These days, of course, everyone’s probably staring out the window, still naked, in the middle of the self-isolating morning.

Japanese artist Tsubasa Kato’s short film ‘Listen to the Same Wall’, 2015, sees three musicians play on adjacent patios, separated by 10-foot walls which prevent the usual use of visual cues when making chamber music.

And William Cobbing’s seven minute performance / film ‘Long Distance’, 2018, (still at top) demonstrates one way to ensure you keep an appropriate gap in place… It’s a development from his well-known ‘The Kiss’, 2004, in which the clay-heads are allowed to get a little closer.

Art writer and curator Paul Carey-Kent sees a lot of shows: we asked him to jot down whatever came into his head

About Paul Carey-Kent

Art critic and curator, based near Southampton. I write most regularly for Art Monthly, Frieze, Elephant, State, Photomonitor... and, of course, FAD.