Toby Christian
Artist in Residence

 

Toby Christian at the Torre Bonomo.

Toby Christian’s interdisciplinary practice uses dissociative and divinatory processes to question dominant modes of representation and communication. His writing presents the reader with high definition textual spaces for habitation, where objective descriptions elicit feral poetics. Since 2020 he has been developing Stringer, an application which produces a unique, temporary, suspended digital string sculpture in response to a user’s spoken statement.

During his residency Christian worked on writing for his fourth book, to be published by Koenig Books. Alongside the writing, he also explored the fabric of the Torre Bonomo via the extension of an ongoing series of exercises carried out in his studio, using fragments of frayed string. He presented these in ‘Cuki Spago’ at his Open Studios.

Toby Christian , Open Studio, 4 May 2024, Torre Bonomo

Cuki Spago

For the Mahler & Lewitt Spring Open Studios, artist and writer Toby Christian presents Cuki Spago, a temporary installation for the Torre Bonomo. Alongside the writing he has been working on throughout the month, Christian has also been exploring the fabric of the Torre via the extension of an ongoing series of exercises carried out in his studio, using fragments of frayed string.

Once composed and set with glue or starch, these small fragile structures are carefully hung, balanced or placed in relation to existing objects and spaces for reflection. Occasionally painted with the faintest traces of colour, Christian performs these slow studio exercises to heighten his awareness and attune his receptive sensibilities, where arbitrarily frayed lengths of twine gain new figurative and/or typographical registers.

As an evolution of this usually private process, Christian has responded to the unique historical, material and spatial contexts of the Torre, installing these five small string sculptures – easily overlooked – on existing surfaces and available fixings. His approach can been seen in dialogue with Richard Tuttle’s installations in the Torre and elsewhere through Tuttle’s work ‘Ten Kinds of Memory and Memory Itself’ (1973).

Accompanying this series of physical interactions within the architecture of the Torre, Christian also presents the digital projection Stringer (Clutch Problem) (2024), showing the very latest outcomes from his ‘Stringer’ application. The work produces a unique, temporary, suspended digital string sculpture in response to a user’s spoken statement, and has been in development since 2020. Processing a whole chapter Christian has written during his residency, the video shows a looping procession of floating figures, likewise generating new possibilities for his writing, where exacting language opens to more fluid, open sites for interpretation.

Selected solo exhibitions and projects include no odonata, Belmacz, London, UK (2023); Lazy Bones, Casanova, São Paulo (2021); Old School New Body, Gallery Celine, Glasgow (2019) and The News, curated by David Dale Gallery, Glasgow, for Swimming Pool, Sofia (2017). Selected group exhibitions, collaborations and projects include String Figures/Fadenspiele: A Research Exhibition, Museum Tinguely, Basel (2024) (forthcoming); Flash_Looking with Michela de Mattei, Belmacz, London (2024) (forthcoming); Up the Beanstalk: Stressing Commuters, NTS (2023); Up the Beanstalk presents Stressing Commuters, Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (2023); Stringer (bone behaviour)Parrhesiades (2022); Interpolations II, Galerija Prozori, Zagreb, Croatia (2022); Der Bote ist der Tote, Mauve, Vienna, Austria (2020) and Quiz 2, MUDAM, Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean, Luxembourg (2016). His books Commuters (2021), Collar (2017) and Measures (2013) are published by Koenig Books. Toby lives and works in London, where he is Senior Lecturer in Fine Art at Central Saint Martins, London.