Kate Conlon & Richard Blackwell: Doubling the Cube
May - July 2018
Mana Contemporary, Chicago



Doubling the Cube includes sculpture and installation that investigate abstract questions about the nature of orientation in space, the extremities of theoretical dimensions, and the ways that truth and consensus are wrestled collectively into being.

The exhibition takes place in a long room defined on one side by a series of eleven closely spaced electrical outlets. Taking advantage of this functional architecture, Conlon crafted eleven mechanical sculptures, each of which illustrates one of the eleven dimensions described by M-theory, a branch of string theory. Moving from object to object, one can see the ways that dimensional transitions flow from one to the next or leap disjunctively. Each exists on the edges of representation, where the ability to visually describe the properties of a dimension becomes a challenge of reaching and grasping.

Conlon’s dimensional objects are complemented by Blackwell’s installation of aluminum handholds arrayed grids across the walls. Directly evoking the grips of a rock climbing wall, the shiny aluminum holds are spaced too widely to be functional. Instead, they hint at the airless rendering space of a software design program, a Cartesian grid with no inherent orientation and no gravity. Accompanying this grid is a sculpture: a textured cylinder attached to a long wooden handle, the object is a roller carrying a negative impression of the Moon’s topography. With both the grid of handholds and the lunar roller, Blackwell both summons and holds distant ideas of traversal, orientation, and terrain.

Rounding out the exhibition is an artist book researched and authored by Conlon. With the approach of a sociologist, Conlon researched and participated in the community and its years long journey to construct a perfect replica of a laser gun prop from the first Star Wars movie. Conlon’s book documents the key twists and turns of a process of collective research and the group arbitration of truth and authenticity. 

The exhibition is organized under the curatorial residency at Mana Contemporary, Chicago. It is accompanied by an exhibition catalogue designed by Hour Studio and featuring an essay by Third Object and an interview between Conlon, Blackwell, and artist Jan Tichy.

Kate Conlon (b.1989) is a Chicago-based artist whose work explores the various ways we make sense of the world. Con- lon has exhibited at venues including the Grand Rapids Art Museum, the Terrain Biennial, Oak Park, Illinois, and Museu do Douro, Portugal. She has received grants and residencies from Kala Art Institute, ACRE and Haystack Mountain School of Crafts. Conlon is founder and co-director of Fern- wey Gallery and director of Fernwey Editions, an independent publishing house that collaborates with artists on limited edition prints and multiples. She currently teaches in the printmaking departments of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Columbia College Chicago.

Richard Blackwell (b.1987) is an Australian artist whose interdisciplinary practice draws interconnections between sculpture, printmaking and digital fabrication. Blackwell earned his MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago as a Fulbright Scholar from Canberra in 2012, and currently resides in Doha, Qatar, where he serves as Assistant Professor and Coordinator of the Woodshop and Fabrication Facilities at Virginia Commonwealth University Qatar. Since 2011, his public sculptural commissions across Australia have greatly informed his practice.