Let us take down one of those old notebooks which we have all, at one time or another, had a passion for beginning. Most of the pages are blank, it is true; but at the beginning we shall find a certain number very beautifully covered with a strikingly legible handwriting….here we have copied out fine passages from the classics;…here, most interesting of all, lists of books that have actually been read, as the reader testifies with some youthful vanity by a dash of red ink.
~ Virginia Woolf, “Hours in a Library”
Christina McPhee’s ‘commonplace book’ draws from a palimpsest of handwritten notes, lists, quotations, bibliographic fragments, and sketches, from an artist whose voracious reading practice is a direct feed into her life and art — all set to a visual and textual design-as-score, as prominent writers on painting, media arts, performance, video installation and poetics engage with her ‘open-work’ practice. Christina McPhee’s images move from within a matrix of abstraction, shadowing figures and contingent effects. The tactics of living are in subterfuge, like the dazzle ships of camouflage in war.
This ‘commonplace book’ develops a view of recent work in collaged paintings, drawings, photomontage and video installation, around themes of environmental transformation and ‘post-natural’ community.
The book includes conversations, essays, interviews and notes by Ina Blom, Phil King, James MacDevitt, Donata Marletta, Melissa Potter, Judith Rodenbeck, Esztar Timár, and Frazer Ward.
Christina McPhee’s work is in museum collections, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, the International Center for Photography, New York, the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, Thresholds New Media Collection, Scotland, and elsewhere. Her work has shown in solo exhibitions at American Unversity Museum, Washington, DC; Bildmuseet, Umea, Sweden, and in group exhibitions including documenta 12 and Bucharest Biennial 3. McPhee lives and works in California, and you can see more about her work at her website HERE.
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