Cubitt Gallery and Studios

Like a lot of Andy Holdens recent projects, The Dan Cox Library for the Unfinished Concept of Thingly Time is quite complex and takes a little explanation and orientation. Thankfully there is a guide, this is one of those exhibitions that really needs one and without it you would leave slightly baffled. The Dan Cox library is a collection of books owned by Holden’s friend and ‘Theoretical Advisor’ Dan Cox who died last year in a bicycle accident at the age of 28. The story is that the day before he died he proposed a title for an exhibition Chewy Cosmos, Thingly Time. ‘Chewy Cosmos’ was a phrase that Cox read on the back of a Cadbury’s Starbar and ‘Thingly Time’ is described as ‘Dans Great Theory-drawing on Marx and observations from Andy’s sculptures, of a three part-division of Time: Time as Intensive, Extensive, and Thingly.’. It is the concept of Thingly Time that is proposed as a guide for the research that could be carried out in the library. Containing all of Cox’s books and sculptural fragments of Holdens, you are watched from the walls by several of Holdens black and stuck-on googley eye prints of the universe. Specially designed bookshelves also serve as plinths for different objects- a slice of magic-sand rock, a ceramic ashtray or a Weepul (the pom pom mascosts with no limbs and a ribbon tail) and stand on squares of carpet printed with extracts from Flaubert’s book Bouvard et Pécuchet. It was this book that Cox and Holden would use as a starting point for their conversations during studio visits. Piled up ice-cream coloured blob sculptures from Holden are placed throughout the library. They seem an echo of the larger woolen chattering sculptures, also on different height plinths, simultaneously on view in Holden’s exhibition at works/projects in Bristol. Cubitt’s are more cartoonly chaotic but retain a homely feel, multiple melted plasticine Morphs or failed garden shed pottery experiments.

Included within the library is an exhibition The Language of the Flowers and the Stars. Curated by Holden and taking its title from a poem by Raymond Radiguet, it is an attempt to explore the notion of the ‘manifestation’ of Thingly Time through 18 artists work. The work is interesting, but confusing. Claes Oldenburg’s N.Y.C. Pretzel, Kurt Vonnegut’s Asterisk are shown alongside video work by Johnny Parry and other, randomer, objects. A stuffed bird stands on the floor with a newspaper tucked under his arm. The concept and theory of Thingly Time is tricky and I’m not sure it is explained well enough to enable the viewer to really understand how, in these works, the theory is made manifest. The exhibition title makes it clear that this is an ‘unfinished concept’ but I would like some further guidance please. I do, however, like the word Thingly. I haven’t heard it used before. It has a knobbly touch quality to it, like the word Fingers (or Mumbling). It is fun to think about an artwork being Thingly (I know you are a thing but are you thingly?). There is nonsensical romantic potential of words in Cox’s unfinished, and poignantly never to be finished, Grand Theory. I think this is best followed through in the Jean Cocteau wall drawing leading you to Holdens Charlie Brown zig zag jumper-painted hanging pots. A line becomes a word, becomes a rhythm, becomes a thought, becomes a Theory.