Dominic McGill’s exhibition FuturePerfect explores the construction and representation of history through epic works in graphite. Interested in Baudrillard’s concept of the collapse of historical linearity due to the speed of information, McGill constructs vivid timelines of text and imagery that have no beginning and no end. As McGill explains the show’s title: “The Future Perfect tense allows us to talk of the past in the future. If linearity has collapsed, then we can talk about the future by referencing the past and vice-versa”.
McGill incorporates collage in four monumental drawings which investigate recent history, war, economic depression, the virtual, and systems of ideology and belief. The largest of the collage works, entitled Ideology Has No History, has a formal motif which is based loosely on Jacques Callot’s Temptation of Saint Anthony. The drawing ties together quotes from Karl Marx on ideology, Jacques Lacan’s The Mirror Stage, Foucault on knowledge and power, Freud’s The Uncanny, and Guy deBord’s Society of the Spectacle, among many others. Images are taken from LIFE and National Geographic magazines of the 60’s and 70’s, and include Winston Churchill’s funeral, Lee Harvey Oswald, Ronald Reagan, Dolly Parton, the 1966 shooting of James Meredith, the 1968 assassination of Robert Kennedy, and a LIFE magazine special on revolution.
In order to further elude the structure of linear narrative, McGill also creates two sculptural drawings for this exhibition. In one, organic forms made of cast aqua-resin are encased in a large glass vitrine. These forms resemble three large bladders connected by intestinal tracts such that all three function as a codependent organism. The gesso surface of the forms is covered with graphite text and imagery referencing Louis Althusser’s Three Spheres Model of society and other related texts.
The second sculptural drawing entitled Muqaddimah is 80 inches high and 21 feet long; it is graphite on paper, mounted on linen and suspended from the ceiling in a circle. McGill collaborated with Dr. Murat Cem Menguc, a specialist in Middle Eastern History, to create this epic work which takes its name from medieval Arabic historian Ibn Khaldun’s famous book. Shown in a darkened room and lit from within, Muqaddimah is meant to be examined from both outside and inside. The shape of the piece was conceived as an inverted version of Plato’s cave: a cave with transparent walls, a scene in which the reflected reality is the cave itself and the truth that it holds is inside. Taking recent history as its subject but simultaneously attempting to remove all narrative structure, Muqaddimah is comprised of quotes and images, which have been arranged in an interplay designed to create friction rather than consistency. Densely packed, dynamic, and relentless, Muqaddimah conveys humanity’s schizophrenic obsession with its origins and its meaning.
This will be Dominic McGill’s third solo exhibition at the gallery. He is included in A Torrent of Words: Contemporary Art and Language at The Kohler Art Center in Sheboygan, WI, and C’est la Vie: Vanitas from the 15th-21st Century at Musee Maillol in Paris, France. His work will also be featured in an upcoming exhibition entitled The Power of Paper at Saatchi Gallery in London.