Image: Microwave/mailbox from the Isle of Lewis, Scotland, shared during research correspondence, 2021. Photo: Lucy Skaer

Light enough to read by
Fiona Connor, Lucy Skaer, Rachel Shearer and Cathy Livermore – Read their bios on The Physics Room website

Light enough to read by emerged from discussions around the return of The Physics Room’s library into the gallery and to public access. For the last year and a half, since the shift to our current site in the Registry Additions Building, much of the library has sat in boxes.

The specific needs of this shift—sufficient and natural light, space for reading, listening, and resting—offered a script for us to work within the development of this project.

Underpinning this was the idea of the exhibition itself as a form of publication, and ‘text’ as something social, material, and lived, subject to conditions of light and weather.

Works by Connor, Skaer, Shearer and Livermore open out from these ideas, transforming the gallery.

A metal hare runs, runs, low to the ground, across the wood floor; daylight comes in again and the workshop doorway is open; the gallery breathes like a lung with the names of Waitaha’s winds.

Each of these works relies on dynamic relationships: with grammar and syntax, ko ngā hau me ngā wai (winds and waters), architecture and light, positive and negative, chase and flight, oxygen and lungs, reader and listener, fabricator and artist, correspondent and recipient, sequence and rest.

While each relates to narrative, none of the works in Light enough to read by rely on writing itself. A current of questions runs through the exhibition instead. If written words are not the dominant vehicle for information, what other material languages, voices, histories, and relationships can be held in the gallery space?

How might the site generate alternative forms of reading, not contingent on words on a page, rather on conditions including light, relationships, oral and material narratives? The works might be received as a series of speculative responses to these questions.