April 22 – June 4, 2022
The Art Incubator Gallery
Inside Out is the exhibition of most recent works in various printmaking media by Madeline Mackay, a Scottish print- and multi-media artist from Glasgow, Scotland. In Inside Out, flesh encroaches on and consumes other forms. Meat coils through the images, expanding across both body and human-made objects. In the series Knotted, it dominates the expected, entire, and compliant human form. Glistening and dimensional, it straddles the line between internal and external, organ and interloper. By contrast the body is passive, reduced to little more than a visual field. In Cross Section, meat is configured into alternative anatomies in place of the body’s vital organs. The body is deleted, leaving only the meat’s contours to suggest the curvature of the human form. The body’s expected contents are replaced with unexpected fleshy tangles that have a life of their own. In Growth, meat creeps over stacked cuboid forms. Like the body in Knotted, these structures of industry, control and order are passive, overrun by the vigorous biology of flesh. This series particularly addresses the collective experience, since March 2020, of helplessness in the face of a biological threat for which we have no final solution.
During the last two years awareness of the volatility and instability of the fragile relationship we maintain with our flesh has become vastly more present and universal, but this is an understanding that at some level must underpin everything we do in the world as biological creatures. Flesh is easily forgotten but its rich and incomprehensible life, both who we are and not us at all, defines humanity in the most basic way.
Flesh is present everywhere in my work. It appears overtly in the skin and puckered strips of meat that pervade my images, and subtly in the suggestively biological patterns that I make with meat as I repeatedly arrange and rearrange it. My work is about flesh: understanding flesh, fighting it, and compromising with it.
Through printmaking, drawing, photography, and video, I examine the experience of existing in a body, with particular attention to the relationship between psychological experiences and the body. Our flesh reflects intimately the tensions that we carry around in our minds and my work seeks to give a physical form to these psychological tangles and connect them to the flesh that they exist within. I explore the correlation between mental stress and physical ill-health, and the anxiety of existing in a material body that belongs as much to chemical and environmental influences and its other microscopic inhabitants as it does to us.
Meat is my primary imagery because it is both of the body and not of it, compelling in its relationship to our own material and abject in its separation from the body. It exists suspended between ‘us’ and ‘other’. The knots and repetitive patterns that I performatively construct from meat are both an act of ownership, a motion to assert control over this uncertain material, and an echo of the convoluted relationship between the body and the mind.
Through sustained looking, responsive drawing and layering using print and new media I examine this ambiguous space at the edges of our sense of self. The breakdown of clarity and accumulation of depth that happens through printmaking helps to unfold the blurred edges of physical substance and the complex relationship between matter, body, and self. Drawn marks are crucial both in a traditional sense and in my performative use of meat as a mark-making material because they directly reflect the tensions that exist in the body. These marks that I make through physical gestures are visual manifestations of the dissonance, anxiety, and confusion of existing in a body that is not fully my own. In an age of information when it is easy to forget that the mind needs the body, my images lean toward its gross materiality and embrace it.
Madeline Mackay is a Scottish visual artist, currently living and working in Glasgow, Scotland. She completed her MFA in Printmaking at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, and her BA (Honours) in Fine Art at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, Dundee. She has exhibited in juried, group, and solo exhibitions in Canada and the UK. Her work is held in collections including the Royal Scottish Academy, Northlands Creative Glass, SGCI Archives, and the University of Alberta Art Collections.
Top Image: Knotted 1 (detail), 2019, UV CMYK screen-print on rag paper
Courtesy of the artist