Mark Leckey: The Universal Addressability of Dumb Things at Nottingham Contemporary

The Universal Addressability of Dumb Things, curated by Turner prize-winning artist Mark Leckey is the latest of Hayward Touring’s artist-curated exhibitions from Southbank Centre. Opening at Nottingham Contemporary on 27 April, the exhibition includes work by Louise Bourgeois, William Blake, Prunella Clough, Richard Prince, Jim Shaw and Tøyen and explores how our relationships with artworks and common objects alike are being transformed through new information technologies. It will explore a kind of ‘techno-animism’, where the inanimate comes to life, returning us to ‘an archaic state of being, to aboriginal landscapes of fabulous hybrid creatures, where images are endowed with divine powers, and even rocks and trees have names’.

The Universal Addressability of Dumb Things explores the tenuous boundaries between the virtual and real worlds. As modern technology becomes ever more sophisticated and pervasive, objects communicate with us: phones talk back, refrigerators suggest recipes and websites anticipate our desires. This exhibition explores the concept of techno-atavism, whereby advanced technology returns us to the beliefs of our ancestral past. Through a conceptual assemblage of archaeological artefacts, contemporary artworks and visionary machines, Mark Leckey creates a network of objects – communicating, talking to one another and, implicitly, looking back at us.

This exhibition will include historical and contemporary works of art, videos, mechanical objects and archaeological artefacts loosely grouped into ‘leaky typologies’: Man/Bodies, including angels and monsters; Animals, including mummies, fossils and chimeras; Machines, with circuitry, scientific and medical devices and spare gadgets.

The marvels and oddities in The Universal Addressability of Dumb Things include a clay concept car; a medieval stone gargoyle; an Egyptian cat mummy; a 13th century silver reliquary in the form of a hand; a mandrake root; and a 1940s model of a cat used to demonstrate reflexes.

Artists in the exhibition include: Ed Atkins, Louise Bourgeois, Prunella Clough, John Gerrard, Robert Gober, Nicola Hicks, Roger Hiorns, Alex Hubbard, Dwight Mackintosh, Pierre Molinier, James Rosenquist, Jim Shaw, William Blake, John Tenniel and Tøyen.

The Universal Addressability of Dumb Things, 27 April until 30 June, Nottingham Contemporary, Weekday Cross, Nottingham, NG1 2GB.

Credits: Installation View. The Universal Addressability of Dumb Things, curated by Mark Leckey (detail) The Bluecoat, Liverpool 2013. Photo credit Jon Barraclough.