Peter Marsh in Broken Ground @ Phoenix

A skull in a three dimension grid speaks of death and eternal life. This one belongs to a fox, at an end in physical terms, but which enjoys an afterlife of sorts in a gallery.

The virtual scaffold which surrounds and appears to support the skull is the product of delicate handiwork. It is cropped quite close to the bone, but gestures towards infinity.

There’s plenty more this ambient structure might represent: the gallery, the press release, the works shown alongside this piece in the show at Phoenix called Broken Ground, art itself.

Along with this wild memento mori, artist Peter Marsh presents the skull using x-ray, tomography (the scanning of slices through a 3D form) and maps which reveal the fox’s habitat.

Indeed, this is an urban fox, not the victim of a hunt. It haunts the city, so we are informed, like a ghost in the machine, a glitch in the matrix or a thread in the urban fabric.

And perhaps this is why city dwellers tend to like foxes. Because vulpes vulpes has adapted to an environment which has never been planned to accomodate it.

If the fox can do its own thing, there’s hope for us. Life feels very programmed in the digital age. The structures we inhabit criss cross in the very depths of our minds.

But mathematical or topographical, such arrangements surely pre-exist the technology which allows us to visualise or reinforce a grid like this. We discovered them; foxes take them for granted.

Broken Ground also features work by Derek Besant and Jayne Wilson and can be seen at Phoenix, Brighton, until March 25. See gallery website for more details.

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