Artists: Angharad Williams & Mathis Gasser
Exhibition title: Hergest: Trem
Organized by: Daniel Merritt
Venue: Swiss Institute, New York, US
Date: January 20 – April 18, 2021
Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artists and Swiss Institute, New York
Swiss Institute is pleased to present Hergest: Trem, the first collaborative exhibition by Angharad Williams and Mathis Gasser in the United States. Trem, Welsh for “view” and “sight,” marks the sixth cycle of the artists’ ongoing Hergest project.
Since 2016, Williams and Gasser have staged a series of episodic installations across the United Kingdom and Switzerland under the title Hergest that draw upon their shared interests in folklore, mythology, science fiction and cinematic depictions of the near future. Both artists work jointly on all facets of their exhibitions, which feature original artworks, performances and found objects arranged as disquieting mises-en-scène. An ambiguous absence and preternatural forms distinguish Hergest: Trem, where visitors encounter a deteriorating ad hoc bar and recreation space occupied by an uncommon set of guests.
“Hergest” is an ancient Welsh toponym that lends its name to a hilly ridge on the border between England and Wales, as well as the title of a singular medieval Welsh manuscript containing the Mabinogion and other mythological tales and poems: The Red Book of Hergest. Inquiries into the relationship between site and story are important to Williams and Gasser, who cull archetypes and plots from literature, film and television, along with diverse visual references, and synthesize them in response to their environment. The result is a new narrative of the artists’ own making. At SI, Hergest: Trem inhabits the basement gallery as a makeshift, subterranean zone of clandestine gathering that recalls the trope of the urban speakeasy.
A reddish glow spills from this room, which houses an interspecies cast of characters. Reptiles, a human and a specter rest near one another in solitary moments of stasis. A portal-like canvas serves as décor and depicts a bureaucratic architecture populated with seated, faceless figures linked in their loneliness to the varied beings in this shadowy bar. Resting on plinths and tucked away in booths are structures that portray a hive, an engineered terrain and an unorientable planet.
Hergest: Trem momentarily captures a tenuous connection between lives, things and the architectures that contain them. On the brink of an ebb, this hidden realm may not persist beyond the departure of its visitors.
Angharad Williams & Mathis Gasser
Mixed media environment featuring a reproduction of Seymour Rosofsky, Unemployment Agency, 1957-1958. Oil on canvas. 129.5 × 182.9 cm (51 × 72 in.) Art Institute of Chicago, restricted gifts of Carol Rosofsky, Steven Rosfosky, Amy Rosofsky, J. Rebecca Ryan, and the Judith Rothschild Foundation; Ann M. Vielehr Prize Fund, 2001.159. Courtesy of the Estate of Seymour Rosofsky and Corbett vs. Dempsey, Chicago
All other works courtesy of the artists and Weiss Falk, Basel
SI gratefully acknowledges Designtex for in-kind support. Angharad Williams and Mathis Gasser wish to thank Dario Gimenez, Ehsan Morshed Sefat, Richard Sides, Michael Lanzano, Simone Kurland, Mary Provenzano, The Estate of Seymour Rosofsky and Weiss Falk, with very special thanks to Daniel Merritt.
This exhibition is organized by Daniel Merritt, Associate Curator.
Angharad Williams is an artist and writer who lives in Wales and Berlin. Recent solo projects, performances, and group exhibitions have taken place at KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin; Stadtgalerie Bern, Bern; Kunstverein Munich, Munich (all 2020); Haus zur Liebe, Schaffhausen; ICA, London; No Bounds Festival, Sheffield; Peak, London (all 2019); Radiophrenia, Glasgow; and Liszt, Berlin (both 2018). Forthcoming solo exhibitions will take place at Kevin Space, Vienna and MOSTYN, Llandudno.
Mathis Gasser is an artist who lives in London. Recent solo projects and group exhibitions have taken place at Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt; La Rada, Locarno (both 2020); Lady Helen, London; Haus zur Liebe, Schaffhausen (both 2019); Château d’Orion, Orion; Kunsthalle Palazzo, Liestal; Fig., Tokyo (all 2018); Centre Culturel Suisse, Paris; Cordova, Barcelona; Chewday’s, London; Kunsthaus Glarus, Glarus (all 2017); Piper Keys, London; Centre d’Edition Contemporaine, Geneva (both 2016). Forthcoming group exhibitions will take place at the Musée cantonal des beaux-arts Lausanne and Live in Your Head, Geneva.
Hergest first took place at Glasgow International within the group exhibition Rough House, curated by the Woodmill, in 2016. Subsequent presentations took place at Wallriss, Fribourg (2016); Cell Project Space, London; Live In Your Head, Geneva (both 2018); and Josey, Norwich (2020).