Emma Fielden, ‘The Veil (after René Magritte’s The Lovers)’, 2020, pen and ink on 425gsm Saunders Waterford paper, framed, 92 x 92 cm
Emma Fielden’s solo show ‘Approaching Zero’ focuses on the nature of infinity through minimalist works on paper and videos, exploring mathematics, celestial motions, and René Magritte. Australian poet and publisher Carol Jenkins describes in her accompanying essay ‘Ebb, Flow and Raven Gloss’ how the works “[turn] on moments of transformation, honing in on the tension between states of being, black and white, and in her drawings, … what happens as you sidle up to zero.”
Fielden’s major new series of works on paper involves thousands of zeroes, a singular 1, and a decimal point. Depending on the placement of these mathematical elements, each work inhabits a pulsing, abstract space that is either vast or minute, recalling the texture of hand-woven linen or silk, adding an absorbing intimacy to a vast mathematical system. Jenkins writes, “The Veil illuminates the paradox of how Fielden uncannily steps just over the sleeping dog of zero, and puts her infinitesimally small and adamant ‘1’ at a place that is close to but not the very furthest remove allowed by the page and the number of zeros she can fit on to head of her proverbial pin, each of a gossamer width. It lets us see the alliance between what is tending to the infinitely large and what is tending towards zero. Infinity is hard, if not impossible to imagine, but Fielden helps in this with her psychologically dizzying The Veil. If I look at it long enough, I feel like I’m looking into space.”
Fielden will also include a selection of key video works that address the coalescence of forms. Fielden comments, “we see this happening in the world around us from the largest to the smallest of scales: the coalescence of celestial objects, of bodies of water, of fire, of bubbles, of atoms. In fact, right now we are part of a grand coalescence, as our Milky Way and the Andromeda galaxies are drawn together at a rate of 402,000 kilometres per hour, predicted to merge in about 4 billion years. Strangely enough, when the two galaxies collide, the probability of any two stars or planets colliding is almost nil. Closer to our daily experience, we might reflect upon coalescence in terms of our deep human desire for connection.” Related ideas about confluence also inform Fielden’s elegant paper diptychs that have been buckled by pools of black ink, like two seas colliding.
Fielden’s newest video work ‘Dialogue’ documents a performance commissioned by Parramatta Artists’ Studios Rydalmere, where the artist and collaborator Tarik Ahlip break down a large limestone boulder into its smallest particles, attempting to bridge material and psychological distances.
Last year, Fielden’s realised her major solo show An Immeasurable Distance at The Lock-Up, which brought together the site’s architectural history as a place of confinement,and Fielden’s ongoing examination of infinite and infinitesimal phenomena. She has been a finalist in awards including the NSW Visual Arts Emerging Fellowship, Woollahra Small Sculpture Prize and The Blake Prize. In 2018, she was awarded the prestigious Art Omi Australia Committee Fellowship, selected to represent Australia at the Art Omi artists residency in upstate New York.