Birch Contemporary

Janice Gurney: Translations & Alliances

Translations & Alliances is an open-ended body of work, currently numbering 35 separate pieces, based on English translations of The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius. At present there are sixteen different translations, the first published in 1634 and the most recent in 2006. From 2006 to 2013 Gurney made paintings from each translation of the same meditation: Book 10.17. 

“My understanding of this meditation is fleeting. As a response to this sensation of instability, I dropped out the words of the meditation, leaving only red punctuation marks floating on a dark blue ground. The text becomes invisible—what remains is a structure provided by punctuation alone. These symbols of our breath reveal how the expression of our thoughts has changed over the centuries, and the shift in meaning that takes place in our bodies.”

At Birch Contemporary the works will be installed in a number of discrete groupings made up of paintings of the translations, photographs of these paintings in different locations and photographs of the reflections that were once seen in them. A complex of alliances is made visible: alliances that were made between the paintings and the things they interacted with in other situations and alliances that now form between the paintings and photographs that are exhibited in the gallery.