Text by Katie Paine
The Centre for Copies smelt faintly like the musk of cigarettes and strongly like the tang of printing ink. In a large print, a girl -of perhaps 8 years of age- grins down, her teeth pointed and frilled like a small marsupial's, the blue of her eyes an unnatural cerulean. The velvety edges of paper scratch the cheeks of those who sit dully, waiting for 20 copies of Advanced Management Strategies III to sift out from the mouth of the printer.
Approximately 6 people visited the gallery yesterday.
If I had a tongue, perhaps I would run it gently along the thorny surface of this wooden frame. Do you think that I would taste echoes of moss, or the salt from insects' tiny feet?
Would the splinters that would puncture your tongue in polka dots ruin the ecstasy of traversing a forest?
A framed photograph of a statue of Venus -cleaved in two- sits nestled in the corner, its fragmented form so perfectly fitting within the architecture that it sits, it is almost as if it emerged organically: growing out from the walls of the alcove. A digital print of a waterfall -the image itself being perhaps more at home in a travel catalogue than gallery- slides downwards in a queer geometric cascade, mirroring the ledge of a fire place. A series of painterly dove grey abstract works hold a secret. Their understated elegance bely their original state. What we look at are actually the undersides of found paintings: a naive painted landscape, a decoratively patterned painting of hearts-the art equivalent of Muzak. The canvases have been re-stretched, assembled to create new parallel works. Within these inverted paintings, layers of a history of mark making build up into a visible crust.
As viewers, we become tantalisingly aware of the secret universe only centimetres deep, between the painting's rear surface and the wall. One burns to see these "hidden" primordial images: but the secret-self of the image is known only to the gallery walls. Playing with found archival material, Mackie alters the way these images are displayed in order to evoke new narratives, new possible futures, in order "to give back to the architecture" of the space in which a work is exhibited. Mackie's intervention more broadly draws attention to all that so often goes unseen in a gallery, layers of white paint on walls obscuring the marks indicative of an exhibition's history: nail holes, stains, murals and scores. Mackie's works, a hybrid of paint and sculptural object, subvert museological tropes, drawing further attention to the falsity, the often vacuousness of the gallery space sans artwork.
Known for working from extensive collections accumulated over time, Mackie's work often refers to the internet's status as an ever-evolving archive: exploring history and in doing so, querying the way in which events are documented and subsequently remembered - In his own words: "mobilising the static", revisiting the past; synthesising and subverting it. Visual and textual representation structures and curates the narrative of history. Mackie's practice ultimately engages in a discourse, by challenging museological methods of display he drags our accepted notions of archive and history into a more unsettling territory.