Selected works by Hannah Sawtell

Hannah Sawtell
Swap Meet (Blue Muscle Mix) Optic


Lacquered bent steel, toughened glass, window decal, rubber and cork dividers, fixings

75.5 x 71 x 24 cm

With their smoothly lacquered steel frames, their toughened glass, their decals and their rubber fittings, the displays remind me of the upscale signage we increasingly find in our banks and pharmacies: burnished crowd-proof metal armatures guarding billboard posters pulsating with Material Promise.

Hannah Sawtell
Degreasor In The Province Of Accumulation 3


Bent lacquered steel, phosphate acid, section of billboard poster on 'blue back' paper, magnets

148 x 153 x 30 cm

The fragmented images which display themselves on Hannah Sawtell’s shelf-like structures seem so confident of their place and the clarity of their collective message that we can only assume they are part and parcel of a slick advertising campaign for a product that our pathetic brains are as yet incapable of grasping.

Hannah Sawtell
Degreasor In The Province Of Accumulation 4


Bent lacquered steel, phosphate acid, archival laser print on 'blue back' paper, magnets

146 x 136 x 30 cm
Hannah Sawtell
Degreasor In The Province Of Accumulation 6


Bent lacquered steel, phosphate acid, archival laser print on 'blue black' paper, magnets

160 x 155 x 20 cm
Hannah Sawtell
Swapmeet (Al-Bahr Al-Mayyit Mix) Optic


Lacquered bent steel, glass, window decal, rubber dividers, tape, fixings

107 x 78 x 25 cm

But Sawtell’s chilling assemblies aren’t imaginary: all of their components are the stuff of the real world – industrial softwares and hardwares from “The Contemporary Global Arcade”. It’s all out there (and in here) for the taking, in “The Province of Accumulation”. And what better way, Sawtell suggests, than to let the picture machines do the taking and the making – “All image capture, manipulation or slicing is made by the screen used as a lens.”

Text by William A Ewing



Serpentine Cinema: CINACT is a series of monthly artists' film screenings and events at The Gate cinema in Notting Hill. CINACT takes its name from American artist Henry Flynt's 2007 cinema manifesto. Sawtell has made a new work Entroludes 1-6 specifically for this presentation and the context of the cinema.
Hannah Sawtell's work scrutinises the excess of physical and media based production through objects, text and films. By using generic images and found footage from the digital realm and by setting up semi-archival systems of retrieval, she examines what Levi-Strauss termed 'Entropology'. In doing this she proposes a trajectory that forces a fragile equanimity, as it attempts to reconcile the ‘human’ with the culture of disintegration and over-proliferation.

Sawtell's videos and installations investigate the ways in which form and image are disseminated, interpreted and used. Interrogating how we categorize and respond to the barrage of homogenous and repeated imagery they generate relationships between objects, creating playful but critical dialectical encounters.


Art Rabbit

Display With Sound’ 2002 which was titled ‘Shelf Display With Clock Radio’ 2002 at the Whitechapel show ‘Early One Morning...’ played a sound that was a straight recording onto CD of a 1930s Chinese language lesson collection on vinyl I picked up somewhere in a North London charity shop. “Lesson one (in English): o o o a a a (Chinese phonemes) ... Lesson two: u u u i i i ...etc.” I imagined the language analogy would highlight my concerns with form and idiom and the fact of the lesson permeating the space of the gallery would heighten the sense of the real in my displays. I wanted to avoid the emblematic or the gesture, which stands for an ideological position or just simply a novel one; the kind of art that is a sign of liberal inclusion with all its contradictions. I was interested in affect, what the gradual accumulation of the signs would amount to and how this could be directed to keep a space open; an undoing of the symbolic structure of reality.


International Project Space

Hannah Sawtell’s work proposes an engagement with the means of production and the way form and image is disseminated. Works are sometimes deployed as satirical, ‘Swift¬ian’ observations, but often feel like odes to the forced, bittersweet evolution of use value. Sawtell teases out the vacillating beauty and numb homogeneity of the current. With precision and an air of lyricism her work generates relationships between objects, creating balanced but contradictory dialectical encounters.
In “Rent (A youth of waste, a life of mess)” Sawtell digitally edits civic sounds (such as a recording of a London shopping centre) and a series of images pulled from Internet product promotions and screensaver palettes. Between each image is a generic animated transition, as those commonly seen on computer slideshow presentations. Into this cy¬cle Sawtell introduces methods of interruption, reception becomes stuttered, whereupon a moment of caesura is proposed. The cyclical nature of excess in production is sliced chipped and parted.