Skip to main content
Lux OnlineHomeThemesArtistsWorkEducationEducationToursHelpSearch
Artists Artist's home pageArtists essay index page
Andrea PhilipsClick here to Print this Page
Katherine Meynell
Drawing, its rhythm and practice, remains a constant in Meynell's work, along with the influence of the structures and rhythms of experimental music (especially the work of John Cage and Steve Reich).

Meynell's exquisite and detailed drawings and watercolours, often small in scale, appear as part of, and influence the design of, many of her installations. As a parallel practice Meynell produces bookworks, often in collaboration with other artists and designers, which act to abstract otherwise narrative works. The foray into television, instigated by her 1988 BFI commission, sits interestingly in the range of Meynell's other work, which is formally and conceptually committed to notions of diversity refused by single screen work. The connections between drawing, writing, book production, electronic image-making, rhythm and collage run through Meynell's work as both conceptual and - it could be said political - commitments to a practice that desires a structural and quixotic openness.

This commitment to open and fluid structures of perception was found by Meynell in the mid-1990s in the writings of Rosi Braidotti and Manuel de Landa, themselves influenced by Deleuze & Guattari's concept of 1,000 plateaus [sic] in which rhizomatic structures are offered as an alternative to linear (and for them capitalist) modes of thought and behaviour. This body of knowledge is hyper-critical of Freudian interpretations of behaviour, and as such undermines the political struggle of repression based on the Freudian yoke. Feminist video, so engaged with critiques of Freudian masculinity, now faced a new challenge: how to develop non-linear structures out of material essentially narrativised by personal history? Meynell's work developed at this point a series of oblique references to such a concern. In a series of works made in collaboration with Alastair Skinner such as Water Work for Speckled Eye (1996, a performance installation in which the artists peed, collected and measured their urine), Light Water Power (multi-screen installation for opening of Lux London, 1997) and the Hygiene Show (installation with two monitors, 2002) the technocracy of resource development and use was explored. Here Meynell, with Skinner, begins to develop biopolitical material, making explicit connections between the sexualised, reproductive body and its capitalist mechanisation. For the opening of Lux, Meynell and Skinner produced a series of videos that exposed the sewage facilities of the newly gentrified area of East London; images of local waterworks under construction were installed in monitors in the floor beneath the new Lottery-funded face of artists' film and video, equating the inputs and outputs of two types of production facility. In a similar vein The Hygiene Show, made for the premises of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, used footage of water filtration processes to suggest that simple science such as basic hygiene has huge impact. In both works the artists developed an edit aligned to the rhythms of serial music, working with composers to produce soundtracks. The works are light and take a straightforward humorous stance. They are disconcerting in their honesty and avoid artfulness. Meynell treats her viewer as an equal, someone who might share the same jokes and be made angry by the same things as her; someone sharing the same space and time with her politically and emotionally.

Still from Hygiene Show by Katharine Meynell, 2002
Go to top of                             page