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For Want of a Nail

For Want of a Nail

Katy B Plummer

Opening 01.02.17 6-8pm
Artist Talks 23.02.17 6-7pm

For want of a nail, the shoe was lost
For want of a shoe, the horse was lost
For want of a horse, the rider was lost
For want of a rider, the message was lost
For want of the message, the battle was lost
For want of the battle, the war was lost
For want of the war, the kingdom was lost:
All for the want of a horseshoe nail.

The proverb warns us to be alert to small failings at the beginning of our journey, in case a skipped preparatory stitch is the very thing that, compounded, causes our downfall. This is all very well; but here, standing at the precipice of (perhaps inevitable) ecological and cultural collapse, it becomes a bitter, retrospective analysis of causality.

The language of dissent, struggle and protest has been all but completely swallowed by the mechanics of reaction. We yell ourselves hoarse and wear ourselves out on this small battle or that. We get stuck, futilely arguing a million desperately important small points, and the status quo asks: “But what’s the alternative? What do you propose? Be reasonable. It just doesn’t make sense.” And then it sits back, smug, hands folded, case closed.

FOR WANT OF A NAIL is a last-hour, stubborn, unreasonable demand for Something Else. We are weary, and lonely for something that we have maybe never known. Maybe we can’t name it, maybe we don’t know what it will look like, or how we can get there, or who will sweep the streets after, but does that mean we can’t still expect it, demand it, grieve for its absence? At our loveliest and most terrifying, we aren’t a reasonable animal. Nothing makes sense, not really. We live on a pebble, spinning around a flame, in an endless expanse of blackness and stars. A river can demand wordless alternatives that don’t yet make sense. Can’t it?


Katy B Plummer makes immersive video projects. Her practice is materially driven, with a focus on textiles and ladycrafts. She is interested in moments of personal revolution, in the phenomenology and poetic mythology of history and politics, and in fraught/failed/ambivalent femininity. She likes to slather a thick layer of bathetic slapstick over our efforts to transcend our animal selves.
Katy has a BFA from COFA and an MFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York. She has received various awards and grants, and has exhibited in Australia and overseas.
She lives and works in Sydney.

Earlier Event: February 1
Our Lady of the Flowers: Refracted
Later Event: March 1