University_of_Wednesdays_Venn“Out beyond right-doing and wrong-doing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”                                                      – Jalaluddin Rumi

What philosophies of relationship underpin our public life?

In London’s Trafalgar Square there is an empty stone plinth.  Since 2005 it has been used for an on-going series of temporary works of art.  As part of In Their Footsteps: loss and contribution, a 10 day installation at Newport Cathedral entitled what they were about, we are about celebrates the Chartists’ contribution to international democracy. The piece recreates the street plan of Whitehall, through which a thousand clay shoes modelled by Newport schoolchildren march towards the Mother of Parliaments.  Souvenirs of Nelson’s column and Big Ben act as simple navigation devices. Into this practical arrangement Parry&Glynn have placed on the Trafalgar Square fourth plinth the Tunnel Under the Venn Diagram, pointing towards deeper philosophical considerations.

“No intelligent idea can gain acceptance unless
some stupidity is mixed in with it.”

– Fernando Pessoa

Venn 1881 Image from John Venn’s Symbolic Logic 1881

RM Parry writes:  “The Venn Diagram was introduced by the philosopher John Venn in 1880, and the traditional Venn diagram shows common areas between two propositions as overlapping.  This approach indicates material and pragmatic approaches to thinking and culture, but the hitherto undiscovered tunnel under the Venn diagram now links the centre of each area directly to other surrounding propositions in a dialectic and relational way. Greater potential is uncovered.

Following the tunnel’s discovery in 2014, Parry&Glynn declared a conversational excursion on 19th and 20th century British attitudes to the philosophy of relationship and the nature of being human, calling into being the University of Wednesdays.  The tunnel suggests that people participate in each other, in society and in the world at a very deep level.  Institutions, bodies and individuals can benefit from the Tunnel under the Venn diagram when communicating.”

Some argue that the tunnel pre-dates the Venn diagram. We believe it highly likely that there is a whole network of passages, visible and invisible, surrounding this simple construction.

Turning the sketch into solid form for exhibition, we have modelled the tunnel in everyday DIY materials. Like the current David Shrigley Fourth Plinth installation Really Good , this work is both serious and comedic, speaking as much to organ pipes and heating ducts as the tragic commemoration of the Chartists.  Sardonic? No. Antemasque? Probably.

Parry&Glynn envisage the work re-appearing in other contexts.  Invitations welcome.

Images: Chris Glynn, RM Parry

In Their Footsteps: Loss and Contribution was commissioned by Newport Live, Heritage Lottery and the Chartist Commission. what they were about, we are about is on display in Newport St Woolos Cathedral till Tuesday 30th May.