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Hannah Lees, The Turning Of Existence Into Its Opposite

2 - 30 September 2017

PV Friday 1 September, 6-9pm 

+ events every Friday 8, 15, 22 & 29 September 6 - 8pm

The Turning Of Existence Into Its Opposite by Hannah Lees was an immersive project structured around an open studio artist residency, punctuated by a series of public events. The residency began with the stripping of bark from a tree trunk. This activity was a durational performative artwork as well as a means to measure the passing of time and a duty of penance.


During the residency, themes of hermitage and pilgrimage were explored, as well as the figures of Mary Magdalene and Mary of Egypt, and scenes and characters from the film franchise ‘ Star Wars ’.


The exhibition attempts to address how we as people and citizens can move forward. Plato’s ‘ Allegory of the Cave ’  from The Republic was the starting point for unpacking ideas around recuperation and regeneration. Throughout history, religion and mythology, there are many examples of a character choosing a period of retreat or self - exploration in order to return to civilisation when the time is right. Instead of a period of isolation, Lees ’ time was played-out in public with gallery visitors witness to its discoveries.




Event programme:


Opening event ­- What behaviour are you going to do, rather than what are you not going to do?

Friday 1 September 6-9pm


Flat breads and wine were served whilst the film Kailash by Popul Vuh and Florian Fricke is screened. Kailash documents Florian Fricke and filmmaker Frank Fiedler’s (an original founding member of Popol Vuh ) spiritual voyage to Tibet’s 22,000 ft. Kailash Mountain. Accompanying the landscape scenes of the film is the music of Fricke and Popol Vuh inspired by this epic journey. The event was interested in exploring and unpacking ritual, spirituality and how alcohol and food can be a catalyst for human interaction.


Artist book launch - Context Sensitive (2017 )

Friday 8 September 6-8pm


‘Context Sensitive’ is the name given to the Apple iPhone predictive messaging. The program is designed to suggest appropriate words for the context of the text message being written. This book work consists of a set of messages constructed using Context Sensitive, with a second set made using a thesaurus to replace the suggested words with alternatives and a third set replacing the second set of suggested words using a thesaurus again.


The messages are listed 1-10 in Roman numerals, Hebrew and Greek alluding to a history of language. The book is produced as an artwork of 1 for each edition printing. For example: First Edition : 1 of 1. Second Edition: 1 of 1. Third Edition: 1 of 1. And so on. This book work investigates forms of language and interpretation as well as acting as a hands - off approach to writing, where the authorship of writing is questioned.


Performance - Link in a Chain (2017)

Friday 15 September 6-8pm



This was the first part of a two-part performance piece using a replicant to replace the artist ; the performers or avatars were fulfilling actions the artist is incapable of performing. In a similar sense to the use of a ‘False Protagonist’ in literature and film or in mythology where Gods, humans and beings are transformed to fulfil a role. For Link in a Chain the performer was sat on a log with a serving of ten cooked short ribs. The performer put each piece of meat in her mouth, chewed the meat off the bone and spat out the bone. The performance ended when all of the short ribs were stripped of their meat and there was a pile of bones.


Performance - The thing is magic, unimaginable to him who knows not how it is (2017)

Friday 22 September 6-8pm



This was the second part of the two-part performance piece. It was an evening of choreographed dance using Indian Kathakali dance hand gestures or ‘mudras’ and Yoga to create language. The performer wore an orange vegetable-dyed dress artwork, The thing is magic, unimaginable to him who knows not how it is (2012) that had olive stones in the pockets ( in Kathakali orange is associated with noble, virtuous female characters ). As the performer moved, the olive stones were thrown onto the floor and the mudras were displayed.


Closing event - Suddenly They Stop (2017)

Friday 29 September 6-9pm



Suddenly They Stop was a performance piece that used an Ancient Greek water clock method for measuring time. Lees created an outflow water clock where water slowly drained out whilst reading from a scipt (6.4 litres of water equates to roughly six minutes ). The readings are from a script created by Lees that uses the scene and character descriptions from the original Star Wars trilogy, lines from Plato’s ‘Allegory of the Cave’ from The Republic and descriptions of Mary of Egypt. It was a classical and jovial coming together at the end of an intensive residency at Kingsgate Project Space.


The event was part of Art Licks Weekend 2017 29 September - 1 October 2017. 




Hannah Lees lives and works in Margate and London. She graduated with a Postgraduate Diploma in Fine Art from Chelsea College of Art in 2011, London. Recent solo exhibitions include ; Turner Contemporary & The British Museum Commission: Hannah Lees, Turner Contemporary, Margate (2016 ) ; The oldest thing you can hold in your hand, Workbench, Milan (2016 ) ; Floated on foam [ ] Flew with birds, Galerie Tatjana Pieters, Ghent (2016) ; and Hannah Lees : Ever -new Oldness / | \Ever-old Newness, The Sunday Painter, London (2015 ). Hannah has completed residencies at Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop, Edinburgh (2016 ), Stour Valley Arts, Kings Wood, Kent (2014), Clermont Ferrand, France (2013) , and a Foundry Residency at the Royal College of Art, London (2012) .




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