New Writing


Black Mirror


Black Mirror

August 21 – September 2, 2015.

Mint Gallery, 32 Moray Place, Dunedin.

“Only in chaos are we conceivable.” — Roberto Bolaño, 2666.

The creation of something from nothing is the totalising myth in the cosmogony of all human cultures. From the darkness within the embrace of Ranginui and Papatuanuku through the Tohu Wa-bohu of Genesis to the pre-Big Bang singularity of the physical sciences, all narratives of creation begin from an unknowable void.

American academic Eugene Thacker describes black, its absence of light and absence of colour as a condition of ‘retinal pessimism: there is nothing to see (and you’re seeing it)’(1). This absence, this denial of sight is the most immediate metaphor we have for the nothingness that preceded the universe, will be there after the universe, and is the darkness that falls behind all things. Against this background of unknowability any statement of ontology is a cosmological conjecture.

There is a well defined history in painting of black as the field from which form emerges. The interminable shadows of the Tenebrists, the luminous horrors of late Goya, the absolute negation of Malevich, and the starless backdrops of Hotere’s polemics all speak to the notion of black itself as something other from which light and life emanates.

Acknowledging this lineage and employing the modalities of abstraction as codified language this series of works attempts to negotiate with this ‘divine darkness’(2) that Thacker identifies. Making use of various allegories of creation, Black Mirror is a statement of and inquiry into existence. Accepting uncertainty as the necessary initial state of all things, that which emerges from darkness and into being is as much a condition of what could be as what is.

1. Thacker, E. (2013, July 17). Black on Black. Retrieved from

2. Thacker, E.(2013) Divine Darkness. In Speculative Medievalisms: Discography. Eileen A. Joy, Anna Klosowska, Nicola Masciandaro, and Michael O’Rourke (Eds.).