Carlea Holl-Jensen’s The Hollow is a handmade book that conceals part of its narrative between uncut bolts and folded quires. The work is unavailable for reading unless dissected, just as the age of a tree becomes legible only when felled. ‘The trees are just as tall as I remember, and they all seem to be leaning down to peer over my shoulder’, the text begins. The figure of leaning suggests the modern train passenger’s space – encroaching reading of another’s news; the attempt to access words at a remove. The Hollow’s attempted readers share this sense of trespass.
Trespass is also part of the aesthetic of the exhibition. In the low-lit space, a canopy of tree-pieces lean down over visitors’ shoulders as much as we lean inquisitively towards them. No forest clearing offers an unobstructed view, nor are there more landscaped prospects that offer the spectator scope to scrutinize without themselves seeming to come under scrutiny. Like The Hollow, the form of the exhibition stimulatingly performs the opacity and density of its forest subject. Cutler trusts the viewer to meet the challenge of concealment with commitment: to incline themselves as required by the tight space in order to cut their own path. The risk is that dim conditions and the pressure of proximity diminish some small press works. The interesting ambiguity of whether the reading stand or table display placement of works alongside The Hollow do in fact invite opening to read is also the logistical complication that these texts may be subject to either too brief a view or mishandled.