To Name A Few
27 April – 22 June 2019, Tanya Leighton, Berlin
Preview: Friday, 26 April 7–9 pm
I am sitting here with this feeling, and it is a familiar feeling, and it is my heart.
I am needing to reassure myself that I am not writing this letter to you, that I am
just writing it, simply writing it, simply letting it wander out.
I feel sad. My heart, my chest, what fills my chest, something like the taste of
copper, like sucking on a penny, like licking a 9 volt battery and getting a little
shock. It’s here, a little shock.
It has never been so apparent, the workings of shame embedded in my being so
old and outside, yet all the same my own deep thing to tend to, untangle, air out
And I guess it’s true, now I am writing to you. I am writing to you from me and
also to myself.
But isn’t that a letter?
The linear scroll is scraping against the pavement.
In my delusions I am literally some kind of a hero and that is embarrassing.
What holds the reigns, I think of some force, nameless, shapeless within and
outside this bodily container. Sending signals into outer space and actually
I can tell you the joy of this spring day, the brightness of 4PM light, the spirits
that burst through at this time. It’s almost too much of a drunken feeling to
manage. It’s almost too much.
There is my heart again. You know, I haven’t been able to feel my heart in so
And now I pause, and just stare at my hands, still on the board.
And in this moment I decided this letter is no longer for you, because I know
that you don’t want it.
This letter is for my heart, and I can say anything to my heart.
Right now, I am saying to my heart, I am sorry. I am sorry that I wrapped you up in cotton batting and put you away all tampered down and quiet. I am sorry that I hid you from myself, that I turned away from you while we were sleeping, and on purpose, many times.
I am sorry that I turned away from you, my heart. My beautiful, my tender, my sensitive, my loving, my strong, strong heart. And I am so sorry that I put you to rest so often as to no longer feel anything between my ribs and the sky.
To Name a Few
Tanya Leighton, Berlin
Gallery Weekend 2019
26 April – 22 June 2019
David Diao, 2018
Delmonico books — Prestel
With contributions from Philip Tinari, Michael Corris, Pi Li, Sarah K. Rich, Felicia Chen, Kerry Doran
Recipient of the 2019 Arnaldo Pomodoro Sculpture Prize
Solo exhibition opens in Fall 2019
Galleria d'Arte Moderna, Milan
Phaidon Contemporary Artist Series
Text by Julia Bryan-Wilson, Jeannine Tang, and Lanka Tattersall
...and other such stories
Chicago Architecture Biennial
Chicago Cultural Center
19 September 2019 – 5 January 2020
Fondazione Morra Greco, Naples
Tanya Leighton is delighted to announce that the Museum of Modern Art, New York has acquired Marianne Wex's Let's Take Back Our Space: 'Female' and 'Male' Body Language as a Result of Patriarchal Structures, 1977
Tanya Leighton Gallery, Berlin, established in 2008, is dedicated to developing a cross-disciplinary, trans-generational gallery programme with off-site projects, in collaboration with artists, filmmakers, critics, art historians, and curators. Its international exhibition programme reflects a variety of opinions and practices as well as Leighton’s associations with American and British experimental cinema, artist’s film and video, performance, minimal and conceptual art.
Director: Simon Gowing
Director: Patrick Armstrong
Project Manager: Marie Egger
Gallery Manager: Jessica Aimufua
Registrar: Henry Babbage
Finance Manager: Stefan Schuster
Tanya Leighton GmbH
Kurfürstenstraße 156 & 24/25
Open Tuesday – Saturday
11am – 6pm and by appointment
THE MAN GIRL PHONING CHEWING MUM GUM
25 January – 22 February 2017, Tanya Leighton, Berlin
In celebration of the 40th anniversary of John Smith's film The Girl Chewing Gum, Tanya Leighton is pleased to announce an exhibition focusing on this seminal work, widely regarded as one of the most important avant-garde films of the 20th century. The exhibition's title, 'THE MAN GIRL PHONING CHEWING MUM GUM', is a conflation of the titles of the two films on view – The Girl Chewing Gum, 1976 and The Man Phoning Mum, 2011. The latter repurposes the earlier film wholesale, building on its referent by overlaying video on the original. These two works - both of the same length and sharing the same soundtrack – are presented in synchronized loop.
The original, The Girl Chewing Gum, is an interrogation of the conditions of narrative film and the uneasy relationship between images and language. Debuted at the London Filmmakers' Co-op in 1976 – an era where many experimental filmmakers in Europe and North America were eschewing narrative for materialist concerns – the film is in some senses an anomaly. It consists of twelve minutes of voiceover narration describing two shots – one of a bustling street corner in Dalston, London and the other in a field outside the city. The film begins: Smith's directorial voice projects above the sound of car engines and an incessantly ringing alarm bell. 'Slowly move the trailer to the left', he begins, and a scene takes shape with each prop, backdrop and actor obediently following his cues.
Willful suspension of disbelief is eroded over the first few minutes of The Girl Chewing Gum. Paradoxically, this is not because of unconvincing performances or the voiceover failing to describe what is represented on screen, but rather the cast being too perfect and the narrator too emphatic, overstepping his role in the creation of meaning. He disregards the fact that the camera is an apparatus capable of panning, zooming and focusing – of potentially making meaning – and in turn reminds the viewer of that easily forgotten truth. The conditions of cinema are exposed by this film's over-reliance on them.
The Man Phoning Mum utilizes the footage and soundtrack of The Girl Chewing Gum, treating the earlier film as a kind of readymade. Layered on top of the original is video footage shot more than three decades later in the same locations. Perhaps in a concession to the uncontrollable change that occurs with the passage of time, Smith does not direct the 21st century interlopers in Dalston. The old street corner has changed dramatically, as has East London around it. Technological progress has reshaped our world, seen here as the film's new eponymous protagonist chats into a cell phone.
When the video cuts to rural landscape, subtitles confess that Smith couldn't locate the original field. Whether this is due to the drastic changes in the landscape, the artist's forgetfulness or just another lie, we don't know. Humorously, the subtitles mention that the electricity pylons and trees seem to have been rearranged in a different order – as if all this could happen by one director demanding it from off camera.