Drawology, an exhibition curated by Deborah Harty as part of her research project, ‘Drawing is phenomenology’ at the Lanchester Gallery, Coventry, featured work by Maryclare Foá and Birgitta Hosea who exhibit their collaborative work under the name Foá + Hosea.
The exhibition catalogue is now available online here.
Foá + Hosea, Traion IV (Coventry), (2014, digital drawing loop, 30secs)
In the old British expression, ‘being sent to Coventry,’ an individual who is present is ostracised by others, in effect ignored as though not present. The phrase may have originated around the 1600’s when civil war Royalist soldiers who were sent to Coventry were ostracised by the parliamentary population there. As part of their Traion series, Foa+Hosea examine and mark this sense of absent presence in a new piece of work created specifically for Drawology.
In the Traion series, Foá+Hosea respond to the myth of the first drawing, in which Butades’s daughter traced the outline of her lover’s shadow on the wall to hold on to his memory before he left on a journey. Foá+Hosea engage with this dilemma – the impossibility of attempting to hold time – through fixing their digital shadows in place with animation. In the title of the series, the words ‘trace’ and ‘motion’ are merged to reference their process of drawing over film, in which evidence of presence and motion is traced.
Being not present yet maintaining some evidence of presence references Emmanuel Levinas’s idea of absence and presence. Levinas observed how those who no longer exist bodily in the world, leave behind them a physical evidence of their presence. As Derrida in his re-reading of Levinas tells us, ‘ He will not have been (a) present but he will have made a gift by not disappearing without leaving a trace’ (Jacques Derrida in Re-Reading Levinas, 1991)
Traion IV (Coventry) brings to this scenario of ‘being sent to Coventry’ a constructive retelling. On a train journey Foá+Hosea while literally sending themselves to Coventry, attend to, rather than ignore, each other’s presence. Tracing their physical selves as they travel, they also record the journey itself as seen in the passing landscape. In the work, the absence of a presence is drawn into an animated trace, not ignoring but celebrating the non presence through documenting the motion of those no longer there.