June 11–July 23, 2020
Stretched across the entire south facade of Galerie Neu like a second skin is Exterior, Night, Day, 2020, a large collage of photographs of Neolithic carvings taken by Josephine Pryde during walks in her native UK. The etchings, which date to the first millennium BCE and can be found throughout the far reaches of the country, have been exposed to the elements and appear worn, smooth to the touch. Some are covered with lichen, dirt, and dead leaves; others collect pools of rainwater. Just below Exterior, Night, Day, in a window display adjacent to the gallery’s entrance, is The Tongue of Donald J. Trump, 2020, a single image of a flayed ox’s tongue hung on a metal hook. The work nods to Gustave Caillebotte’s Tête de veau et langue de boeuf (Calf’s Head and Ox Tongue), ca. 1882, but with her iteration, Pryde has mobilized a more explicit gesture of violence.
Inside, pieces from Pryde’s series “Hands (Für mich)” (Hands [For Me]), 2014–20, ring the walls, framed behind colored Plexiglas. The images are of hands interacting with iPads and Phones, but also fingering driftwood and women’s sweaters. The series functions as a reminder that photography’s sensory economy confronts a determinate terrain—to touch, to paraphrase Derrida, is to touch a limit at its limit. Indeed, upon extended reflection, it becomes clear that these labyrinthine carvings approximate the size of the human hand, their indentations roughly the same width as an index finger. The form demands an interpretive reach from the viewer, one form of touch that is not stifled in the present moment, when all contact seems frustrated, agitated, boarded up, separated, and, like Pryde’s flayed tongue, cold and mute.