Peter Ainsworth: how arid it is / how fertile it is
3 - 25 June 2016

Castor Projects present the second London solo exhibition of artist Peter Ainsworth whose work primarily utilises sculpture, printmaking, video and photography.

how arid it is / how fertile it is, includes three new bodies of work; Ainsworth’s recent assemblages made from medical and industrial materials placed in relation to photographs and videos. The title of the exhibition references a short poem that accompanied the first presentation of Dust Breeding, 1920 and Man Ray’s account of the photograph’s fortuitous hour-long exposure; obliquely explored in the context of the exhibition as a fiction of chance and encounter.

Ainsworth’s new sculptures consist of Medical Drip Stands, Glass IV Bottles and Infusion Lines that drip Lithium Carbonate or Copper Sulphate onto zinc jet plates normatively used in the creation of intaglio prints. The salt solutions are a speculative enactment of alchemy, in this instance an attempt to transform base metal through exposure to chemical process. Lithium is used to treat the manic episodes of manic depression. Copper Sulphate has been used in medicine, as an emetic to induce vomiting, though is now considered too toxic for this usage. In the context of the exhibition the salt solutions are an attempt at an auto-destructive act. These works inter-relate to images taken on a maternity ward such as a photograph of a human placenta positioned in a dish on a Neonatal Resuscitaire (a devise used to keep new born babies warm, and on which to determine if any further treatment is needed just after delivery), here spontaneously used as an examination table.

A further series of works consist of photography and film depicting the seashore as a wasteland where detritus accumulates. A video piece documents what appears to be medical waste as it washes back and forth in the shallows. Against the dark sand of the beach the object takes on an amorphous quality. Similar to Socrates’ contemplation in Paul Valery’s, Eupalinos or the architect, 1921 the provenance of the object, what it is an­­d where it came from are elusive. Two images of a beached Fin Whale; one taken at low tide at dawn, the other at high tide at dusk are used as counterpoints. The animal, rotting and broken apart on a beach alludes to the cyclical relation between remnants; the placenta, and the carcass having equivalence in this context and reiterate a focus on the abject that pervades experience.

A third component consists of photographs depicting the interior of an abandoned post-war concrete structure and the ritualistic markings that cover the walls therein. Dubbed ‘Zeus Temple’ by its users the wall paintings in the site reference utopian new age rhetoric and allude to Alistair Crowley. Through usage and marking, an attempt has been made to transform the function of the architecture in an act of appropriation and signification. In this sense the actions depicted have resonance with the process of creation within the context of the gallery.