No One Owns the Moon - Lucy Evetts @ The Function Suite
When speculating on the two subjects that predominate No One Owns the Moon, Lucy Evetts’ solo exhibition at The Function Suite, you may initially find the connection proposed between both things to be somewhat illusory, however something uncanny occurs upon viewing the collected works together in aspect. The exhibition is comprised of distinct paintings depicting British long-distance runner Paula Radcliffe and scenes from the Netflix documentary My Octopus Teacher, but within the presentation both subjects start to coalesce; limbs enliven, bubbles of air float in between the frames, and then a realisation of commonality breaks through to the surface. These are paintings about boundaries, so it seems only fitting that as you spend time with the works, their perceived distance unravels.
The multiple included images of Paula Radcliffe throughout the exhibition are haunting. The blackness that pervades some of their backgrounds produces a perceptible sensation of isolation and despair (which is mirrored in the octopus works). Evetts’ has removed any sense of space and movement other than the singular athletic body, casting the figure into an imposed vacuum of pictorial space. It is interesting to then re-consider that these images depicting an individual at the apex of physical endurance, well known for pushing her own physicality and breaking multiple records for human performance, were produced during a time of imposed restrictions and reduced agency. The repeated rendering(s) of Radcliffe transpose her into an aspirant sign, a projection of escaping imposed boundaries – both physically and societally, she is a cypher for the want to be doing, to escape, to push a human body in a time of medical emergency.
In The Predator, 2021, we see a submerged figure clad in diving apparatus, embracing an octopus, the fleshy mass of the diver contorting with the animal, their physicality matched against the darkness of the water surrounding them. It is a painting that is charged with disquiet, but it is the feeling of imposition that is most unsettling and successful here. In contrast to the Radcliffe works, the human subject here is imposing themselves on another, testing and manipulating perceived boundaries through the humanisation and fetishization of another species.
The obvious invited comparison initiated by exhibiting these two series together has the capacity to be taken in as a didactic statement, but what I feel subverts this potential reading is Evetts’ enduring capacity to produce an image that feels lyrical, thereby transcending any notion that these paintings are here to labour a preconceived idea. Even though these are paintings that explore the notion of boundaries and what it means to exhaust them, the works go far beyond a single fixed point. As images they flicker vibrantly with an undercurrent of vitality; every wisp and feathered mark imbuing their painted surface with a sense of something immediate and untethered like the free association of thought.
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