‘We might not be able to say what it is about a work that impresses us, but that there is something there we are certain of. A sense of ‘thatness’ stands out’ Taken from a description of a Heidegger essay by Clive Cazeaux in The Continental Aesthetic Reader, edited by Cazeaux.
Three sculptors present a group exhibition that forms an investigation into object-based sculpture. Objects from everyday environments have been dissected and juxtaposed with other disparate objects or media, resulting in a new and sometimes strange marriage of forms. Through this process of transformation, the artists offer an insight into how the mundane object can become sculpture, and then back again.
The title of the show is broken down from two sources: one of ‘thatness’ and the other of the notion of a word being ‘wild’. The combination of the two terms creates a specific point where the ‘rightness’ of the objects chosen and the physical interventions involved in their composition merge to become the ‘thatness of wild’.
Use of the everyday object within sculpture has almost become somewhat a standard practice, but it is within the application and execution of them that distinguishes the works. Various processes, some specific and some more casual, have been utilised to form a composition that results in the ‘thatness’ of the work. Disparate elements combine to create a satisfaction of forms which is both oddly compelling and strangely ‘right’.
Click here for images of the exhibition.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Gordon Dalton is equally fascinated and disappointed with our surrounding culture. His work undermines our collective and individual expectations of music, politics, travel, architecture and most importantly, art. This shifts uncomfortably between attempts at greatness and contentment with a more sedate way of life. Dalton’s work utilises this acute identity crisis, playing in the gaps between our aspirations and circumstances, the everyday and the mythic, And between success and failure.
Using and often predetermined set of guidelines, restrictions and intuitive improvisation, the work is both formal and frustratingly incoherent. Dalton plays with our highly developed understanding of popular culture, creating a series of real and fictional networks of relationships between diverse objects, references and situations. However, this is not a puzzle to be solved or unlocked. Dalton’s aesthetic and conceptual hall of mirrors bounces the spectator between extremes of naiveté, mean-spirited sophistication, calculated ugliness, the sublime and the ridiculous.
Whilst full of possibilities and hope, there is a refusal here to meet expectations or any notion of clarity. Dalton deliberately underlines that the only guarantee on offer is doubt and disappointment.
Unapologetically nostalgic and sentimental, Dalton embraces his position as an artist with embarrassment. His work manages to combine humour with a dour melancholic edge, and understands that this is as good as it gets. Dalton’s work wants everything to be alright, but that is clearly not the case.
He expresses in photographs and sculptures the anxiety we attach to the temporary nature of things: an aspect of the human condition thrown in sharp relief by our times – where nothing seems certain or sacred. Fearing that time and change eclipses us, our identity, even our world, we seek refuge in beauty, romance and laughter, a quality very much present in Wigley’s work. The artist’s interest in Buster Keaton films, country and western music, and the epic failure of the Titanic is perhaps quite revealing here. In all these narratives runs a theme of flawed and thwarted heroism, where futile attempts to beat the clock/get the girl/save the day are attended by deep pathos and absurdity. Keaton’s feet get caught in the bucket, the cowboy poet drowns his sorrows, the unsinkable ship sinks on her maiden voyage. This kind of tragic comedy informs Wigley as he tries to secure the ephemeral and make solid what is previous and fragile. His language, however, remains economical and restrained. If there is morbidity it is understated, and if there is humour it is dry.
Like many contemporary artists, the use of the ready-made, assemblage of seemingly disparate images and casts from objects, links John Wigley to the surrealist tradition. He operates through displacing meaning and teasing expectation. Something wholesome and familiar appears quite strange, even orphaned. This plays with our sense of reality, as if to suggest that though we think we know the world, in fact we do not.
Quite uniquely John Wigley chooses to employ objects or archetypes which are timeless, if not dated. By using old-fashioned objects (as opposed to the ultra modern), the used rather than the unused, John Wigley evokes a heightened poignancy and a sense of loss. For these are not mere products, they are personal relics handled by and actually belonging to individuals who have already lived and (quite possibly) died.
It is this sense of history and intimacy that makes Wigley’s art so accessible and intriguing. These are poetic objects that resonate on a variety of levels. They deliver a rich sensibility, not a dry concept, and as such are best received playfully, intuitively, and reflectively. This is how the work came to be made.
Through a process of physical interaction and interruption, Cox’s work makes use of the mundane object, most commonly domestic furniture to investigate the form, the accidents and our relationship with these things. Using brightly coloured laminates to cover the cut surfaces of the objects, the newly made sculpture becomes a quiet and oddly compelling piece of strange intensity. The stand-alone pieces can hold an area of their own as their form is an adaptation of a known thing, but it is the adaptation or remaining laminated segment which creates an uncertainty of its whereabouts and history.
Although the laminate is known as a skin, the work eludes this by taking use of its bright colours and ultra flat planes which make the actual fragment become a whole. The cut apart pieces of tables and trolleys may fit together to become one again, but individually they are harder to recognise, potentially it could have been a chair, or a table but it is at this unknowingness where the work comes into its own. Playing with these unexciting commonplace items causes a tension and attraction as we get to see something so familiar do something very different, which makes the work compelling.
Born out of a sculptural practice revolved around basic sculptural principles, the work has evolved from experimentation of a playful rough shod constructions to refined crafted pieces. An initial root placed between a Duchampian legacy and Minimalist tendencies, the work carries with itself a loaded history of readymade sculpture with a combination of wit, playfulness and disparate object combination.
As the work progresses so does the exploration into concerns and processes of the materials used in the work. Taking the laminate as an object in itself is a step which sees Cox removing the notion of skin and putting the laminate undoubtedly into the frame. Through process and development the work will continue to explore the objects which surround us and affect our interaction with them.
Back to 2007