For this major new installation at Camden Arts Centre
, London based artist Ruth Ewan brings to life the French Republican Calendar. In use from 1793 until 1805, the calendar temporarily redefined and rationalised the Gregorian Calendar, stripping it of all religious references in post-revolutionary France. Months and weeks were restructured and seasons and days renamed in collaboration with artists, poets and horticulturalists to reflect the seasonality of nature and agriculture. Ruth Ewan: Back to the Fields runs from30 January until29 March and entry is free.
Bringing together all 365 items used to denote the days of the year-such as a lettuce, a cart, wax, a turnip, honey, a fir tree, ivy, figs, mercury, lava, moss, tuna, a pheasant, an axeEwan will transform the gallery space into a tangible calendar. The title of the exhibition comes from the former title of the French folk song Il Pleut, Il Pleut, Bergère ( It Rains, It Rains, Shepherdess ) written by the Republican Calendar collaborator, Fabre d'Églantine, who allegedly recited the songs lyrics calmly at his own execution.
For Ewan, the Republican Calendar is an inspiring and innovative example of collaboration between artists and the state. Often cited as a failed utopianism, Ewan reconsiders the calendar as a complete artwork in itself, asking what can be gleaned now from this bold reframing of our daily lives. Presenting strands of subversive histories, Ewans work reflects on how radical ideas have been transferred, absorbed or lost within popular culture, whilst reopening their historic continuity to the present moment.
Ewan will also present two other projects, including her ongoing work A Jukebox of People Trying to Change the World in Camden Arts Centres Café(started in 2003). The CD jukebox invites visitors to choose tracks from its growing catalogue of over 2,200 politically and socially motivated songs. Ewans 2011 work We Could Have Been Anything We Wanted to Be , a decimal clock, also relating to the Republican Calendar will be shown outside Gallery 3.
Ruth Ewan (b.1980, Aberdeen), an artist based in London, graduated from Edinburgh College of Art. Recent solo shows and projects include: Brank & Heckle Dundee Contemporary Arts (2011); The Ephemeral Past , The Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo. Seville (2011); Music Without Masters , Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe (2012), The Glasgow Schools , Glasgow, The Common Guild (2012), Liberties of the Savoy , Create / Frieze Projects East, London (2012), Ruth Ewan , Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen (2012); Memorialmania (with Astrid Johnston), Collective Gallery, Edinburgh (2013); and The Darks (with Astrid Johnston), Tate Britain, London (2014).