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When Screens Break

2 October to 26 November 2020

‘Last night I dreamt of the old world again
The air was full of viruses
I recognised the smell
Withered hope
Like rotting flowers’

Emma Talbot’s new large-scale commission ‘When Screens Break’ forecasts a layered sci-fi narrative, imagining a future world where technology has moved beyond the control of humans and operates as a distant but authoritarian force.

This years winner of the Max Mara Art Prize for Women imagines a future where our current technology is obsolete, and humans look back at the early 21st century with nostalgia, reminiscing about the shared intimacy and relationships between human and device. This speculative narrative reveals itself across 40 metres of silk, an immersive architectural painting within which questions are raised and explored around what makes us human, and how we engage with intimacy via hand-held technology. Developed prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, and originally planned to be exhibited during what became the lockdown period, Talbot’s narrative has a visionary, prescient quality that also considers our own physicality and presence in the future, and the ongoing balance of hope and angst that accompanies our being in the world.

Emma Talbot constructs multilayered narratives via a range of media – hand drawn imagery and text, painted silk hangings, 3D forms and sound, to explore ways of describing the inner landscape of personal thought, emotion and self-narrative and the unconscious of dreaming. Unable to work in her studio during lockdown the artist developed her first animations, adapting her paintings and combining her experiments with sound within an internal imaginary space. Two new animation works lead us to a place where
‘Weeds break through concrete and crack the paving. What seems impossible can happen.’

Emma Talbot is represented by Petra Rinck Galerie and Galerie Onrust.

Virtual Tour