Transformer I

7 - 28 September 2019, &Gallery, Edinburgh, UK

Transformer II

18 October - 23 November 2019, Nordic Art Agency, Malmo, Sweden


Jo Hummel’s decision to split a single body of work into two for her split solo exhibition Transformer

I & II, is borne most pointedly from deep rooted, formative experiences of divisive acts and

actions, but given that one of the hosting galleries is located in a British capital and the other in a

major European city, the associated political analogy is also clear and present. The references are

not as singular as the casual viewer may assume, however. In all cases Hummel is responding to

a forced passivity in the face of fundamental upheaval. Throughout life we are faced with situations

in which we feel powerless, be it in childhood innocence or as the furious adult who shouts themselves

hoarse for their cause, but to no apparent effect. Our understanding of situations such as

these changes and matures over decades, sometimes quite dramatically, but the impotent fear of

one’s physical, psychological, personal or political geographies being fundamentally, even dangerously

destabilised by forces far beyond our control, is never outgrown.

In Transformer I & II, Hummel has taken a risk. It would have been practically and conceptually

easier, and perfectly reasonable, to have presented separate shows in Scotland and Sweden;

but taking the path of least resistance is not always right. Instead she has embarked upon a

more treacherous route. In acknowledging and addressing the acts of separation she been subjected

to, she forces herself to consider difficult, personal issues. Her response is to perform a divisive

act herself - one that cannot have been easy - but perhaps the only one that has truly been

in her own hands. It is perhaps a moment of self-awareness for her - a decision made to help redress

an internal imbalance. A move to take the power back.

Far from being entirely self motivated, however, she simultaneously seeks to broadcast

more widely, of political and international issues such as isolation, uncertainty and coerced societal

breakdown, and perhaps suggest that we are not quite as powerless as we may feel. Her profound

personal decision to split up the cohesive body of work that is the result of many months of intense

studio practice was superficially unnecessary and quite avoidable, but it speaks firmly, decisively

and delivers an important message: It may be easier to ignore problems than to address them, to

do nothing rather than to do something or to make smalltalk instead of instigating a serious conversation,

but such a mindset, such a pattern of behaviour, is worthless. Hummel has made and

carried out a very difficult personal decision. Her actions, Universally, and quite unambiguously,

speak louder than words. She sets an example to be followed.

Tom Wilmott

Artist, Curator and Writer

Living, working in London