Jodie Carey

Edel Assanti, London, UK

Jodie Carey’s sculptural installation Stand consists of 50 slender uprights, roughly cast in plaster from pieces of old timber, mounted on steel plinths and arranged in a way that, on first view, suggests a forest glade. The casts were made in earth so that impurities, stones and pieces of soil are collected on each of the forms. The gnarled surface of each is white and darkened like the trunk of a tree, and picked out with delicate touches of colour. These flecks are like reflected light, as if a stand of birches was illuminated by coloured glass windows, creating an impression of something both natural and sacred, while also suggesting a ruin. 

earthcasts_jc.2017.001_edel_assanti_32mres.jpg

Jodie Carey, 2017, installation view, Edel Assanti. Courtesy: Will Amlot and Edel Assanti, London

Earthcasting – making a mould by pressing an object into the ground and then pouring in plaster – is just about the most primitive method of casting, and one that Carey has made her own. The roughness of the method is part of the way it generates form with none of the precision or control of casting with pre-formed moulds. It is also difficult to escape the symbolism of burying an object in earth and the feeling that some sort of ritual of regeneration is being enacted. The old pieces of timber, I learned, had been reclaimed from the Victoria & Albert Museum, where they had been used for many years to construct the splints – storage structures for plaster casts located above the famous cast court.

Stand is Carey’s most recent exploration of the potential of cast and carved plaster to create forms rich in their signification of the natural world – and of human rituals, particularly those associated with death and memorialization. Sacral, ritual associations are never far away in her work. The large, untitled, carved-plaster objects the artist made in 2015 bring to mind burial urns and the age-old ritual of interring bodies whole – the Hydriotaphia, or Urne Buriall famously documented by Thomas Browne in 1658, following the discovery of Roman funerary vessels in Norfolk. Shroud-like canvases painted chalky white surrounded Carey’s urns when exhibited in London two years ago, as they do the uprights of Stand, bringing to mind the place of textiles in burial rituals, both for wrapping bodies and as part of the costly equipment of grave goods.

untitled_jc.2017.002_edel_assanti_mres.jpg

Jodie Carey, 2017, Edel Assanti. Courtesy: Will Amlot and Edel Assanti, London.

Despite these sepulchral associations, Carey’s sculptural imagination is neither sombre nor morbid – quite the opposite. Her ‘Untitled (Slabs)’ series from 2012 – large upright forms faced with plaster on one side, revealing their wood and hessian framework on the other – might seem like memorial stele, but are delicately and disarmingly toned with colouring pencils. For Shroud, an installation in the Anatomical Theatre of Berlin’s Humboldt University, Carey covered the floor of the space with a fine white powder made from grinding animal bones. Rather than freighted ideas of memorialization or sombre death rituals, the recurrent feeling in her work is one of release, of levity, of a quietly elegant compensation for trauma and loss.

Stand is no less invested with this spirit of remembrance and an equally wide range of imaginative associations. Each upright has a definite face, so that standing around human-height they appear as substitute figures, abstract effigies, giving the piece an inhabited feel. Not only a monument to natural ruin and regeneration, then, but also to the power of organized confrontation – of making a stand.

Jodie Carey, ‘Earthcasts’ runs at Edel Assanti, London, until 8 September.

Main image: Jodie Carey, ‘Earthcasts’, 2017, installation view, Edel Assanti. Courtesy: Will Amlot and Edel Assanti, London.

John-Paul Stonard edited and cotributed to The Books that Shaped Art History (Thams & Hudson, 2013) and co-curated 'Kenneth Clark: Looking for Civilisation' at Tate Britain, London, UK, in 2014. He is currently writing a book about the story of art for Bloomsbury UK.

Issue 190

First published in Issue 190

October 2017

Most Read

In the age of Brexit, why Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s pledge to return the ‘stolen’ Parthenon marbles has never been...
The museum director, who resigned last year, acted with ‘integrity’, an independent report finds
In further news: study finds US film critics overwhelmingly white and male; woman sues father over Basquiat
With the government’s push for the controversial English baccalaureate, why the arts should be an integral part of the...
From Bruce Nauman at the Schaulager to the story of a 1970s artist community in Carona at Weiss Falk, all the shows to...
Sotheby’s and Christie’s say they are dropping the practice of using female-only staff to pose for promotional...
For the annual city-wide art weekender ahead of Basel, the best shows and events to attend around town
For our second report from BB10, ahead of its public opening tomorrow, a focus on KW Institute for Contemporary Art
The curators seem set to ask, ‘how civilized is the world’s current state of affairs?’
In further news: declining UK museum visitors sees country fall in world rankings; first winner of Turner Prize,...
The Icelandic-Danish artist’s creation in Vejle, Denmark, responds to the tides and surface of the water: both artwork...
In further news: Emperor Constantine’s missing finger discovered in the Louvre; and are Van Gogh’s Sunflowers turning...
The opening of a major new exhibition by Lee Bul was delayed after one of the South Korean artist’s works caught fire
The LA-based painter’s exquisite skewing of Renaissance and biblical scenes at Stuart Shave/Modern Art, London
Lee Bul, Abortion, 1989, performance documentation. Courtesy: the artist and PKM Gallery, Seoul
In a climate of perma-outrage has live art self-censored to live entertainment?

A tribute to the iconic New York journal: a platform through which founder Andy Warhol operated as artist, hustler and...
A distinctively American artist who, along with four neighbourhood contemporaries, changed the course of US painting...
From Assemble’s marbled floor tiles to Peter Zumthor's mixed-media miniatures, Emily King reports from the main...
From Ian White's posthumous retrospective to Lloyd Corporation's film about a cryptocurrency pyramid scheme, what to...
Kimberly Bradley speaks to ‘the German’ curator on the reasons for his early exit from the Austrian institution
In further news: #MeToo flashmob at Venice Architecture Biennale; BBC historian advocates for return of British...
German museums are being pushed to diversify their canons and respond to a globalized world – but is ‘cleaning up’ the...
Sophie Fiennes’s new film Bloodlight and Bami reveals a personal side of the singer as yet unseen 
‘At last there is a communal mechanism for women to call a halt to the demeaning conventions of machismo’
The German artist has put up 18 works for sale to raise money to buy 100 homes
The novelist explored Jewish identity in the US through a lens of frustrated heterosexuality
Artist Jesse Jones, who represented Ireland at last year’s Venice Biennale, on what is at stake in Friday’s Irish...
‘I spend more time being seduced by the void … as a way of energizing my language’: poet Wayne Koestenbaum speaks about...
To experience the music of the composer, who passed away last week at the age of 69, was to hear something tense,...
In a year charged with politicized tensions, mastery of craft trumps truth-to-power commentary
In further news: women wearing rainbow badges beaten in Beijing’s 798; gallerists Georg Kargl and Richard Gray have...
‘Coping as a woman in France is a daily battle: the aggression can be subtle, and you always have to push harder to...
Toyin Ojih Odutola’s portraits of a fictional aristocratic Nigerian family push toward an expanded definition...

On View

Latest Magazines

frieze magazine

April 2018

frieze magazine

May 2018

frieze magazine

June - August 2018