Nicola Dale

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8866 Full Stops for Spinoza, 2012

oak, MDF, test tubes & lids, glass fragments, UV cable and pastel paper, 105cm x 105cm x 10cm


"Spinoza (1632-77)… the noblest and most lovable of the great philosophers… lived quietly…making his living by polishing lenses… According to Spinoza… self-preservation alters its character when we realize that what is real and positive in us is what unites us to the whole, and not what preserves the appearance of separateness." *

The work consists of fragments of broken glass separated from each other within test tubes. The tubes are arranged in a labyrinth, forming an unbroken, weaving path to the centre. Paper discs threaded onto UV cable connect disparate parts of the piece. As in Spinoza’s philosophy, each fragment, each tube, each disc becomes part of a unified whole.

The work is made up of 8866 circles, representing every full stop in Spinoza’s Ethics. We think of full stops as the end of a thought, but they also mark the beginning of what follows: they are symbols of unity and separation. Every idea contained in a sentence is contained in its full stop.

Although the work’s components are seemingly disconnected (natural, manmade, robust, fragile, ordered, chaotic), the circular form – a large-scale full stop - brings these elements together and gives Spinoza’s immense abstract idea some small, concrete visual reality.

*Bertrand Russell, History of Western Philosophy

Artworks by Nicola Dale

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