Middleton met with a professional dog-walker in Buenos Aires, where he photographed him at work in exchange for promotional photographs. In these drawings the dogs themselves have been ommitted, focusing instead on his body and the tangled system of leads, clips and chains that binds them all together.
Life is not a walk across an open field
10 July – 14 August 2021
Private View: Saturday 10 July, 3–6pm
Stuart Middleton’s new body of drawings, based on photographs taken by the artist of a professional dog-walker in Argentina in 2019, continues his ongoing interest in the complex symbiosis between humans, animals and commerce.
“I was struck by the power relation between G and the large group of dogs. His quiet domination of them. The images felt slightly violent, G standing over the crawling dogs, their throats cinched by choke chains and straps. By removing the bodies of the dogs from the images, I wanted to release them from our gaze as subjects of pity or sympathy. I wanted to describe the human as also bound by less visible forces, tied up, dominated.”
“The images centred on the space between them; the system of clips, leads and chains that connected him to the dogs. His hands, hips, crotch, and buttocks become the centre of the drawings, the origin of motion. The dogs move constantly, centrifugally, their power transferred to him at the point of their connection, their movements traced by the coloured lines of the leashes.”
“The title of the show ‘Life is not a walk across an open field’ is a Russian proverb. It makes me think about enclosure and domestication. Property and relationships. Living is to become entangled in the lives of others, in structures and institutions. To have them pull you in different directions.”
“Through this process the quarter-second that each photograph took to capture and the fifteen minutes that G and I spent together has stretched into a much longer time. Time has passed around me, but it's also stuck, invisibly inside me. Sitting drawing I replay encounters, conversations in my head, endlessly, maddeningly. Occupied in this way there is no telling where the mind can go, back to an awkward moment considered forgotten from years before, lodged in there forever.”
“I think about my entanglement with G, the inequality between hemispheres, something that photography is linked with, originates out of. Photographs of animals, and then people in motion. Accelerating, progressing, developing across the surface of the earth. These images try to describe this kind of entanglement, the forces that have driven them to become entwined are no longer clear, no longer visible. Unwinding part of them, the others knot together more tightly.”
Stuart Middleton has had solo institutional shows at the ICA London; Künstlerhaus Halle für Kunst & Medien, Graz; Qiao Space, Shanghai; and Tramway, Glasgow. Over the past year, Middleton’s work has also been featured at the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC; Kunsthaus Glarus; and Gladstone Gallery, New York