Kate Davis

Saturday 5 November 2022
7 — 11 PM

6 November — 4 December 2022


Opening: November 05, 2022, 7 PM
Duration: November 06 – December 04, 2022
Greeting: Dr. Werner Dohmen, Chairman of the board NAK
Introduction: Maurice Funken, Director NAK

NAK Neuer Aachener Kunstverein is pleased to present FLAW, a new exhibition by artist Kate Davis.

The exhibition centers around a series of drawings created for the TWODO collectors group. Collectively titled ‘Flaw’ the drawings depict, in minute detail, everyday dust and grime found in the artist’s home. In English ‘flaw‘ can mean a fault or imperfection and when spoken it sounds like ‘floor’- the terrain which has been mined for these drawings. Alongside the Flaw drawings related works are presented, including the drawing, Phantom (2021) and two of Davis’ moving image works, Charity (2017) and Weight (2014). All of these works share an interest in questions of value, in feminist economics, and in the place of art-making in relation to other kinds of labor.


Artist statement 

‘I don’t have to know what it’s all about.
That’s not what I’m trying to know.
It’s the looking that matters,
The being prepared to see what there is to see.
Staring has to be done…’

Margaret Tait, Seeing’s Believing and Believing’s Seeing (1958)

That’s the crux of FLAW – a chance to stare. To stare at dust on a floor. Or at dust on paper.

I began with a postcard. A postcard of a Roman mosaic titled The Unswept Floor. The mosaic creates the illusion that the remnants of a lavish feast have been strewn upon it. This image and title offered me a cue to adopt the notion of the unswept floor—the neglect of domestic labor—as a feminist approach to make work. I began drawing the dirt and crumbs from our kitchen floor (not the scraps from a banquet but the everyday matter that constantly gathers, out of place and unwanted, on a floor, or a cooker hob). Abandoning housework to make artwork.

In her 1931 lecture Professions for Women, Virginia Woolf termed it ‘killing the Angel‘ – overcoming the figure of the woman as divine care-giver / unpaid cleaner in order to pursue her literary work. Not that she saw this as the only challenge to be faced. Woolf writes:

These were two of the adventures of my professional life. The first – killing the Angel in the House – I think I solved. She died. But the second, telling the truth about my own experiences as a body, I do not think I solved. I doubt that any woman has solved it yet. The obstacles against her are still immensely powerful – and yet they are very difficult to define.

Virginia Woolf, Professions for Women (1931)

Ninety years on, and whilst Woolf’s gender-specific focus is outdated, the obstacles and phantoms continue to loom and obstruct many bodies. It might seem mad to stare at grime, but laboring over drawings of domestic dirt became my way of reckoning with some of the ghosts Woolf describes.

Making FLAW, I was also thinking about Maria Sibylla Merian (1647 – 1717), the German-born artist, adventurer and one of the earliest entomologists. Sibylla Merian was as interested in painting the life cycle of a slug as she was in depicting an alluring butterfly. It is her exquisite studies of the flora and fauna that don’t normally take centre stage that I am most drawn to. Focusing on that which should literally be brushed under the carpet, FLAW is an attempt to render this lowly material with the same acute intensity that Sibylla Merian’s studies have – treating grease on the hob as if it is a scientific specimen. I am interested in the routine, repetitive, yet essential aspects of life that you have to do to get to the work—interested in these aspects becoming the work. Being prepared to see what there is to see. Staring has to be done.

                                                                                            – Kate Davis, 2022

About the artist

Kate Davis (*1977 in New Zealand) studied at Norwich School of Art and Design and Glasgow School of Art. Davis worked as a committee member at Transmission Gallery, Glasgow 2001-3. Solo exhibitions include: Nudes Never Wear Glasses, Stills, Edinburgh; The Unswept Floor, Dunedin Public Art Gallery, NZ; Not Just the Perfect Moments, The Drawing Room, London; Eight Blocks or a Field, Temporary Gallery, Cologne; Ranziges Fett, Galerie Kamm, Berlin; ¿Qué tenemos que hacer con una habitación propia?, Museo de la Ciudad and La Galeria de Comercio, Mexico; Your Body is a Battleground Still, Tate Britain, London; Waiting in 1972; what about 2007?, solo statement with Sorcha Dallas, Art Basel; Stop! Stop! Stop!, Kunsthalle Basel. Group exhibitions include: Chips and Egg, The Sunday Painter, London; 35th Kassel Documentary Film and Video Festival; Class Reunion, MUMOK, Vienna; A Slice Through the World: Contemporary Artists’ Drawings, Modern Art Oxford; Art Under Attack: Histories of British Iconoclasm, Tate Britain; For Each Gesture Another Character, Art Stations Foundation, Poznan, Poland; Olinka or Where Movement is Created, Museo Rufino Tamayo, Mexico City. Davis lives and works in Glasgow.

Special thanks by the artist to:

Dominic and Peter Davis Paterson, Sandra Davis, Luke Collins, Simon Harlow, Andrew Mummery, Adam Szymczyk, the TWODO group, LUX and LUX Scotland, Creative Scotland and the Elephant Trust.

Kindly supported by: