Kate Daudy “It Wasn’t That At All”
Artist Kate Daudy’s contemporary response to Tutankhamun: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh can be found on the 2nd floor at Saatchi Gallery. Don’t miss as part of your visit to the exhibition.
It Wasn’t That At All
Daudy’s multi-media exhibition, It Wasn’t That At All, explores the common interests we share as human beings. With a celebrated ability to immerse herself in the subject, Daudy has produced an installation that draws on her own reflections on home and identity, closeness to nature, faith, science and human mortality. As a contemporary reflection on Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh, the exhibition invites the viewer to question the meanings behind the traditions of Ancient Egypt. Daudy suggests that everything is connected; the past never remains in the past, we each leave a legacy.
Over several months, Daudy researched Egyptology, engrossing herself in understanding the faith and traditions of Ancient Egypt. She explored contemporary surgery and ancient Egyptian medical beliefs and practices. A focal point is a video wall of eyes staring out from phones and TV monitors; the multi-faceted installation immersed the viewer in a journey that explores themes common not just to the hastily buried 3,500 year old Tut, but to each of us today. Whatever our circumstances we will experience death, be forced to consider questions of family, home, identity, absence and loss. Our life is what our thoughts and actions make it.
Daudy’s passion for life and being a human being resonated throughout the gallery bringing the wonders of Ancient Egypt alive to all. Working in close collaboration with international design practice STUDIOS Architecture and Parisian-headquartered build specialist Agilité Solutions, the installation started with a video wall with Egyptian eyes vividly staring out from TVs and telephones.
Alongside research materials, Daudy’s installation uses her signature appliqué woollen felt technique. Firstly, a sculptural floor installation of the White Nile, inspired by the central role the river played to ancient Egyptians and its fertile earth, celebrates man’s closeness to nature. Nearby, a textile piece explores Daudy’s own first experience of losing a loved one with text from The Dialogue of A Man With His Soul written in 1800 BC. Alongside the text, Daudy illustrated fireworks, representing a friend’s funeral where the widow placed her husband’s ashes inside fireworks.
Continuing the theme of mortality and touching on faith and science, an island of work juxtaposed surgical instruments from the Hammersmith Cardiology Unit with works representing traditional mummification practices. For the Egyptians the heart was believed to be the residence of the soul. Having witnessed heart surgery in July 2019 in her research for this show, Daudy showed live footage from a heart bypass, alongside an interview with the patient describing the experience and his considerations of mortality and the afterlife in the context of this body of work.
In a small city of empty plinths and display cases dedicated to noted absence, Daudy used her distinct humour to play with the viewer’s preconceived ideas of exhibitions. Presented as a traditional gallery installation – except, absent of objects. Ranging from the ancient Egyptian fortress of Buhen, subsumed by the Nile in 1964 with the construction of the Aswan Dam, to ideas and personal recollections, the labels provoke the viewer’s imagination.
The gallery’s final area examines what we leave behind: our legacy. We find a tiny child’s chair and other furniture sewn with Daudy’s own Egyptian hieroglyphs and written interventions. A backdrop projector shows the original filmed footage of the tomb’s entrance during the sacking by Carter and Carnarvon. Here, Daudy has placed a 1930’s portable typewriter, rickety chair and table, by a wall monitor, on which appear lists of objects as they emerge into the light after 3,500 years, alternating with extracts from Egyptian ‘wisdom texts’, underlining to us that the past never remains in the past.
About Kate Daudy
Kate Daudy (b.1970) lives and works in London and is recognised for her work exploring the limits of language. Known for her written interventions in public and private spaces, Daudy’s work is based on an ancient Chinese literati practice of seeking to understand the universe through art and nature. Her observations have fed into an array of artistic disciplines including sound work, performance, interactive collaboration, photography, sculpture and large-scale installation. She commonly uses wood or felt fabric to create her writings, as well as her more characteristic ink drawings. Her words reflect or contrast with the nature of the object she makes or chooses, and value what she writes on for what it might evoke or represent.
Daudy has had numerous exhibitions worldwide and is engaged in regular philanthropic and activist commitments. Recent highlights include a large scale installation of her work ‘Am I My Brother’s Keeper’ inside London’s St Paul’s Cathedral. The work originally created by Daudyfor UNHCR has also been shown at Manifesta in Palermo, Manchester Art Gallery, Edinburgh International Festival. Previous highlights include exhibitions for Yorkshire Sculpture Park, South Bank Centre, Bonhams, ARTCOP21 at the Eiffel Tower, Les Rencontres d’Arles, Centre Flagey in Brussels as well as city wide artist’s interventions in London, New York City, Manchester and Amman, Jordan.
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