This body of work will be a continuation and re-examination of the work produced for the ARTM52 module. The personal events which dominated the context of the previous works will again be referenced. However, the sculptural language articulating these subjects is intended to be more accessible. In this regard, the subjects of trauma, illness, memory, neurosis and the domestic will be referenced. The work ‘Lamentation of the Flesh’ has demonstrated the use of abstraction and metaphor as a means of moving beyond the past idiosyncratic semiosphere the work existed in – these new theoretical considerations will be made in this body of work. The consideration of abject objects and materials and ready-mades will continue as well as a continued exploration of video and sound.
The previous work began to drift away from functioning as mere therapeutic devices as the emphasis of the sculptural object and its associations took hold. This, coupled with the broadening of the subject matter, will be the catalyst for more experimental work in regard to form and representation. The work ‘Cenophallus’ can be seen as the beginnings of more a whimsical approach, less constrained by the context of the self. In this regard, the use of humour, black humour, as a device in the work will be strongly considered.” – NLP ARTM57
Reflecting on the above project description, I feel I have been able to produce work which is less autobiographical and referential regard to the dominant personal themes in my previous work – the work I have produced is more playful and ironic. Materials, form, objects and metaphor have been investigated in more general terms. The pieces are ambiguous, some abstract and some open to interpretation. I am happy to allow the works to exist either as sculptural investigations or as whimsical manifestations of my thought processes. I feel a sense of freedom in these approaches.
“CULTURAL, HISTORICAL & SOCIAL CONTEXT
The materials, employed methodologies and representation of the previous and intended sculptural work mirror the Arte Povera movement and the use of non-traditional everyday materials. The relevance of the theoretical manifesto of the movement in contemporary practice must be considered. Also, the contemporary context of the ready-made must be referenced in light of 2016’s Turner Prize winner Helen Marten’s practice – this challenges the traditional theories of the ready-made. Post-minimalist approaches to sculpture and the current relevance of abstraction will provide a contextual framework for the intended explorations of form and the abstract.” – NLP ARTM57
There may be correlations in this body of work to the movements and artists initially outlined in the context of the project but for the most part these references are not consciously considered in the production of work or the development of ideas. These works have been made intuitively and are not underpinned by a research process. I feel this strategy allows me to have complete freedom to articulate my ideas – there is an honesty and purity of expression which has been tangible in the production of this work. It may be the case that references and correlations remain evident in this work but this is coincidental. I have largely referenced my own practice to provide context. However, I have found the work of Marcel Broodthaers, Bas Jan Ader, Doris Salcedo and Paul McCarthy compelling.
The intended practice will seek to build on previous methodologies to produce work which has a stronger foundation in contemporary sculpture. The originality of the previous work is in question. Therefore, more experimental sculptural work will be produced by exploring the juxtaposition, deconstruction and synthesis of new materials and processes. The project will be more ambitious in terms of scale, site and presentation building upon the forays of the previous module. The work will hopefully be less personal and more accessible through the investigation of metaphor and symbolism in object and materials in more universal terms. It is intended that the subjects of trauma, illness, memory, neurosis and the domestic will be explored in the body of work. However, black humour and irony in relation to the representation of these subjects will be explored.” – NLP ARTM57
I feel the works are more experimental in relation to my previous work – whether are not they can be deemed ‘experimental’ is a different question. I have explored juxtaposition and the synthesis of previously untested materials with some interesting outcomes which I have been happy with. This body of work is less personal, references remain but the focus is on materials, metaphor and representation in regard to the body and human experience. There are elements of black humour in the work but succinct examples are lacking – irony is certainly evident. Scale has become less of a concern.
“PRACTICE BASED METHODOLOGIES
The methodologies to be utilised in this body of work will be again dominated by theoretical analysis and intuitive approaches to making. The collecting and sourcing of objects and materials and the examination of their form and association in the studio will form a large part of the process. Sculptural work will be produced by exploring the juxtaposition, deconstruction and synthesis of new materials and processes. Examining work outside of the studio, in the project space for example, will again be vital in exploring the dialogues of works and gain more clarification of context and representation.” – NLP ARTM57
Intuition and play have been the most common strategies in the production of this work. This has been a refreshing and enjoyable experience. The unknown element of this methodology is invigorating and enlightening. I am hesitant to over-analyse or quantify this process.
Analysis of final works
‘Interlude’ – human hair, wooden palettes, Lino floor tiles
I have been interested in human hair, its materials quality and symbolism, for a quite some time. An earlier work, a small pile of my own hair upon a piece of foam, was revelatory in regard to a method of presenting the hair sculpturally. The simplicity of the hair merely in a pile allows for complete focus upon the material and its associations. Time, death, illness and the unclean become thematic and symbolic considerations. The plinth on which the hair was to be presented became an area of investigation and opportunity – how could the hair be subverted or complimented by a variation on the traditional plinth? Wooden pallets form a crate resembling some sort of stage-set for the hair sit upon. Lino floor tiles place the hair within a domestic context – the hair becomes a character or prop within a theatrical scenario.
‘Four Horseman of the Apocalypse’ – sweeping brushes, mop, polythene bag, hessian, rice sack, timber
I find the symbolic and metaphorical potential of domestic and utilitarian objects exciting. The figurative quality of sweeping brushes and mops (upright, a head and hair) presented an opportunity to discuss emotional and psychological themes, turmoil, oppression, trauma, fear, death etc. It would not have been enough for me to merely present these objects as pure ready-mades without juxtaposition or subversion – the potential to play with a narrative and address the thematic concerns of the module was clear. The four characters now stand in what resembles a firing line in various ominous states – kidnapped, suffocating, stowed away. The ambiguity of the scenario, the symbolism, the metaphor and physical interplay please me greatly.
‘Andy Twanky’ – timber, plywood, giclee print
My intention with this module was to investigate black humor and irony in regard to the representation of serious subject matter. I found that the first series of work from ARTM52 did not represent my character or worldview which I found disconcerting and disingenuous. I wanted to challenge this by making a piece which was not only humorous but also self-deprecating, satirical and parodical.
‘Beyond the Pale MK2’ – fire bucket, hospital table, lager
This piece deals with the subject of illness and self-medicating. The hospital table by its very nature references illness and being bedridden. Metaphorically, the fire bucket suggests danger, an incident and a solution. The lager in the bucket represents self-medication, its risks and its futility.
‘Case Study’ – suitcase, rock
I have played with different variations of using the suitcase. The suitcase for me has a multitude of associations including; a vessel of human activity, a metaphor for the self and a trace or fragment of narrative. The suitcase and the rock begin to look at the materiality and form of things. The manufactured everyday object which is empty and transient alongside the natural permanence of the rock becomes sculpturally profound, like a sculptural counter-point. An ominous narrative also begins to form as to the purpose of the rock in the suitcase – deadweight for a drowning perhaps?
‘Hairmatch.com’ – human hair, foam, cloth
This piece is a variation on a previous developmental work. I wanted to use human hair to discuss contemporary themes regarding the human experience. The first plinth is a pile of my own hair and the second is a pile of my girlfriend’s hair. Gender, relationships and the absurdity and fallacy of online dating is being discussed, confirmed by the title of the work.
‘Messiah Complex’ – banana skin, wood, panel pins
The banana skin seems to be a ubiquitous symbol or metaphor for a mishap, a mistake or misfortune – the phrase ‘that’s a potential banana skin’ confirms this. It is also a comedic device which we see in slapstick routines etc. The banana skin becomes figurative when nailed to the cruciform – the fool on the cross. I feel this is a profound work but what does it suggest; the absurdity or delusion of religion, a crucifying embarrassment, the ascension of the fool?
‘Keep Your Shit to Yourself’ – drainage pipe, bin liner
This piece literally suggests waste or excrement leaving a drainage pipe and entering a bin liner. This is a physical metaphor of the title of the work. It may either be read as antipathy toward the expressing of emotions or disclosures of turmoil or the guarding or inability express such things.
‘Crutches’ – crutches
I find this a darkly humorous intervention. I imagine who might have discarded their crutches to use the lift? Where are they now and why do the crutches remain? It is a potential narrative of misfortune and the perhaps absurd reality of impairment. To take my practice beyond the studio has been important as I explore the potential of subverting public spaces with abject and prosaic objects.
1. Untitled – human hair, wooden palettes, Lino floor tiles
2. ‘Four Horseman of the Apocalypse’ – sweeping brushes, mop, polythene bag, hessian, rice sack, timber
3. ‘Andy Twanky’ timber, plywood, giclee print
4. ‘Beyond the Pale MK2’ – fire bucket, hospital table
5. ‘Case Study’ – suitcase, rock
6. ‘Hairmatch.com’ – human hair, foam, cloth
7. ‘Messiah Complex’ – banana skin, wood, panel pins
8. ‘Keep Your Shit To Yourself’ – drainage pipe, bin liner
9. ‘Crutches’ – crutches
10. ‘Nobhead’ – sex toy and mirror
In correlation to Warhol’s ‘Death & Disaster’ series, is the work ‘My Neck is Thinner than a Hair: Engines’ by the Atlas Group and Lebanese artist Walid Raad. The group are fictional collective created by Raad, the Atlas Group project was established in 1999 to research and document the contemporary history of Lebanon. The Tate Modern, which owns the fourth edition of ‘My Neck is thinner than a Hair: Engines’, describes the work as:
‘..Looking at the aftermath of car bombs in Beirut during the Lebanese civil war (1975–91). It consists of one hundred framed inkjet prints, each featuring a black and white photo on the left and an equal-sized piece of paper with handwritten notes and date stamps on the right, placed one next to the other. These are scanned and printed renditions of the front and back of journalistic photos of car engines found scattered around the city of Beirut following bomb explosions during the war. The artist found the photos in the Lebanese press, such as the daily newspapers Annahar and As-Safir. The date of the explosion, the name of the photographer when known, and an English translation of the notes found at the back of the pictures are included at the bottom of each print. On the right hand edge of each of the prints, running vertically is the name of the artist, the Atlas Group file that the work belongs to, the title of the file, and the date of production of the work. These framed prints, which the artist terms ‘dossiers’, are shown arranged in a rectangular grid on the wall. The work was produced in an edition of five, of which Tate owns the fourth. There is also one artist’s proof.’ (Tate, 2017)
‘My Neck is Thinner than a Hair: Engines’ and the Atlas Group project as a whole can be seen as utilising scenes of destruction and tragedy as a means of making a political statement. This occurs in the banality and irony evident in both the repeated images of the bombings and in Raad’s juxtaposition of the remains of the car and the bombs used to explode them.
For all there is an evident subterfuge in Raad’s archiving of Lebanese car bombs it is certain that the project is based on a rational moral intention – the work challenges and undermines the indiscriminate violence of the conflict.
Tate. (2017) ‘Atlas Group, Walid Raad: ‘My Neck is Thinner than a Hair: Engines’ 2000-3. (Accessed at: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/atlas-group-raad-my-neck-is-thinner-than-a-hair-engines-t11912 (Accessed 12/04/2017)
A newspaper photograph of a plane crash in 1962 inspired Andy Warhol to produce a series of works dealing catastrophes and horrific accidents. The ‘Death and Disaster’ series from 1962 to 1964 was one of the most prolific undertakings of his career, despite the lack of enthusiasm gathered from the American audience. The paintings included jarring scenes attributed to newspaper tabloids and crime scene photos: suicides, freak accidents, car wrecks, criminal mug shots, as well as haunting portrayals of the infamous Sing-Sing electric chair, atomic bombs and a grief-stricken Jacqueline Kennedy. In these grainy silkscreens, some brightly coloured, others in black and silver – both the content and form refer to the reportage aesthetics, general appetite for sensation and the confusion of images that dominate modern society, using this as a background against with which to explore transience and mortality.
One of the most disturbing works created by Warhol within this series is ‘Ambulance Disaster’ from 1963. Unlike other works in the series, the image presents a graphic image of the mangled aftermath of an accident in which a casualty is the focal point. It is this fact which makes the work so shocking – the raw and candid image of death. However, Warhol contradicts the taboo of these subjects; “When you see a gruesome picture over and over again,” he commented, “it doesn’t really have any effect.” (Blessing, 2017) Perhaps it is this desensitization which Warhol critiques or indeed propagates. In November of 2013 a similarly graphic work from the series, the serigraph ‘Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster), was sold at auction for $105m (£65.5m) (BBC, 2013) setting a new record for the most expensive purchase of a work by Andy Warhol. This was the second highest price paid for a contemporary artwork in history. This fact not only underlines an obvious moral dilemma but supports the continued fascination and power of the subjects of death and tragedy in the art world.
BBC. (2013) ‘Andy Warhol auction record shattered’. Accessed at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-24937683 (Accessed 12/04/2017)
Blessing, J. (2017) ‘Andy Warhol: Orange Disaster #5’. Accessed at: https://www.guggenheim.org/artwork/4176 (Accessed 12/04/2017)
In 1994 Jake and Dinos Chapman created ‘Great Deeds against the Dead’ (Fig. 3) a three-dimensional version of Goya’s ‘Plate 39: Grande hazaña! Con muertos! (A heroic feat! With dead men!)’ (Fig. 2) from the ‘The Disasters of War’. Stemming from the brothers’ fascination with the etchings and the prevalent subject of death and suffering in their work, the almost hyperreal sculpture brings the horrors of this scene into a tangible reality for the viewer by bringing to life Goya’s etching. It is also significant that the brothers’ viewed the piece as a critique of political rhetoric at that time as Jake Chapman discusses below in an interview with the Guardian in 2003: “Not to be too glib, but there’s something quite interesting in the fact that the war of the peninsula saw Napoleonic forces bringing rationality and enlightenment to a region that was marked by superstition and irrationality,” Jake Chapman said. “Then you hear George Bush and Tony Blair talking about democracy as though it has some kind of natural harmony with nature; as though it’s not an ideology.” (Gibbons, 2003)
Gibbons, Fiachra. (2003) ‘Chapman Brothers Rectify Disasters of War’. Accessed at: https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2003/mar/31/arts.turnerprize2003 (Accesses 18/04/2017)