E% is a newly commissioned work and performance by artist Mary Walling Blackburn by Art in General, New York in partnership with Swimming Pool to take place in July and August at Swimming Pool.
For a hundred years, the sermon chart—an southern American folk form—served as a preacher’s graphic aid and was executed by the preacher on bed sheets; the charts were pinned to altars or tied with rope to trees. Here logic does not flow; it pools.
In an alternate universe, a reader walks through a small canyon and these charts hang from ledges, secured by rocks for a quarter of a mile. The charts diagram the seam where a reader’s psyche has bonded with book:
I, Little Asylum by Emmanuelle Guattari; Bhanu Kapil’s Schizophrene; Cristina Perri Rossi’s State of Exile; Yoko Tawada’s The Bridegroom Was a Dog; Silvia Federici’s Caliban the Witch; Guy Hoquengham’s The Screwball Asses; A Lesson in Dead Language by Adrienne Kennedy; Walking Through Clear Water in a Pool Painted Black by Cookie Mueller; The Little Black Book of Griselidis Real: Days and Nights of an Anarchist Whore, The Spotted Hyena: A Study of Predation and Social Behavior; Hilda Hilst (various novella); Thoreau’s Shipwrecks essay … and so on.
Mary Walling Blackburn has researched and explored the sermon chart as visual and performative object since 2012, generating charts that draw from experience and texts onto her family’s beds sheets; diagrams that are anti-patriarchal, anarchist and non-functional.
In an era characterized by extreme polarization of positions and echo chambers in many contexts, Walling Blackburn asks us to examine what it means to seek to convert another to a belief system and on what terms? What space lies between the evangelized and unevangelized?
In her new commission the artist explores this space, creating a collaboratively-made chart specific for the context of Swimming Pool and using it as the score for a musical performance, with number of previous charts made by Walling Blackburn also on view.
E% is Walling Blackburn’s first international solo exhibition.
Mary Walling Blackburn works in New York City. Her work and writing have been featured in publications including Afterall, BOMB, Cabinet, e-flux journal, Pastelegram, Grafter’s Quarterly and Sharjah Biennial 13: Tamawuj. Her projects have been shown in solo exhibitions across the United States and three of her sermon charts have recently been performed at Beta-Local, San Juan; St. Marks Poetry Project, New York City and Triangle in Brooklyn.
Art in General is a nonprofit contemporary art organization that assists artists with the production and presentation of new work. Founded in 1981 by artists, it has been a pioneering force unlike any other institution in New York City, supporting thousands of local and international artists early in their careers. Alongside Art in General’s exhibition programs that take place in New York and internationally, its public programs and publications examine critical and timely issues in artistic and curatorial practice, with a current focus on the politics of land. Since 2017, Laurel Ptak is Art in General’s Executive Director and Curator.