Clementine Keith-Roach: Labours

7 June - 19 July, 2019

The hands; the milk; the coins. Here are gestures of reciprocity, of care, and of exchange. In Technics and Language, André Leroi-Gourhan writes that the human hand replaced the mouth over the long span of evolutionary time, as the organ of apprehension through which we take in the tactual rhythms of our world. When children begin to speak, this transition repeats itself in miniature: the hands take on the task of knowing, freeing lips, teeth and tongue for speech.

These hands investigate. They flutter in recognition, encountering minor objects and one another. They revolve around the swollen hollow of the vessel, taking on its patina and colouring. The vessel in turn takes on the warmth and sensitivity of skin. Both are tender surfaces, registering the passage of time, transformed by the intimacy of contact with one another.

Like the milk on offer, coins bring separate bodies into contact; through touch as they slip from hand to hand, and again through the equivalence they make between the labour of one body and the labour of another. Coins are the still present remainder of an older economic order. They are near-obsolete dregs of economic forces and financial instruments at work beyond the scope of the senses. But even the most impalpable of forces has its corresponding gesture, its answering twitch on the corporeal plane.


Lakshmi Luthra

Clementine Keith-Roach (b. 1984) lives and works in Dorset. She graduated from Bristol University in 2008 with a BA in Art History. She has recently been part of exhibitions at MOCA, Los Angeles; Blue Projects, London; Centre Regional D’art Contemporain (CRAC), France; The Villa Lontana, Rome, Open Space Contemporary, London and Pervilion, Palermo and London. Keith-Roach curated the group exhibition Interiority at Ben Hunter Gallery in 2018. She is also an editor of Effects, a journal of art, poetry and essays.


The artist would like to acknowledge that these labours are also the labours of her partner Christopher Page, her parents Wendle and Stephen Keith-Roach and those who assisted her, Francesca Toomey, Phoebe McElhatton and Juliette Temple.