It is oh so easy to become repeatedly enthralled within the exquisite and distilled manifolds of perfection, vivaciousness, purity, and idealism. Lately, I have been finding beauty in death and excess. It must be due to the chilly autumnal gales creeping past my scarf to the nape of my neck, and the surplus of fallen browning leaves crunching to bits under my feet.
The end of the year, the end of a life, the end of everything… time to take stock…
I have long been smitten with the barokitsche style of British artist, Hew Locke.
His sculptures represent the many fetish fantasies I hold as an artist who engages in hacking, re-appropriation and collecting shiny plastic anythings. Locke’s sculptures are the quintessential embodiment of the interior of every dollar or pound store, minus the boxes and plastic packaging complete with stamps labeled ‘made in China’, and plus more hot glue and screws than one could possibly imagine.
These works represent:
The sheer amount of choice one can have, even for trivial items like toys and knick knacks… it is truly overwhelming to ponder, let alone decide which or what
The ubiquitous and disheartening plethora of cheap distributed objects - Thanks to Globalisation and China - these materials readily accessible in every market across the world.
The death of the multiple, the birth of multiple multiples times infinity
A homogenous nature of these items… although Locke has given these objects a new lease on life, the fact remains that they are simply a reconfiguration of many cheap bits of plastic, just as each bit, was molded into its own configuration of plastic
Locke’s sculptural works such as Kingdom of the Blind and House of Windsor successfully highlight the irony and life cycle of a desired item. An object is coveted because it is desired, it is desired because it represents something symbolically, culturally, economically, sexually, politically etc. These cheap plastic imitations cause lust and desire, so much so, that one overlooks the fact that they are in fact cheap and plastic, and Lock reopens and subsequently closes the desiring circle by accumulating these idolized trinkets and reconfiguring them into personified multicellular/plasticular organisms. Locke locks the viewers gaze into a desiring circus impregnated with multiple aspirational objects, and prompts a plasticised, oracular, cluster-fuck symphony of excess.
Chris Jordan is also well versed on many of the same themes and concepts that have been outlined above, in particular the concept of the birth of multiple multiples times infinity. He has created a series of photographic books and images titled: Running the Numbers II: Portraits of Global Mass Culture. He has been working for the past two years on a project that could very well be his magnum opus.
Midway: Message from the Gyre, also visits the notion of excess and desire. Here, the viewer is presented with a new type of cheap plastic, a faded version that is used and abused, cracked, lacks lustre, and definition.
The life span of the albatross and the lengthier life span of the reconstituted plastic coalesce into a single fleeting memory and image. Here, the excess, resembles more of a gathering of knick knacks and items from a nature walk, as opposed to a coveted prized collection of desirable objects. In truth the plastic was collected not out of desire, but out of necessity. Misconceived as an item of food it was ingested by the albatross as a form of nourishment, yet the plastic acted as a toxic vessel blocking any real form nourishment from being digested. Jordan’s work eloquently reminds one of the simultaneous reality and metaphor found within the story of the Albatross’ from the Gyre.
Jordan’s images are works that are evocative of haunting reverie, and Locke’s sculptures provoke desiring inclinations and aspirational coveting. The Globality of excess in plastic production and consumption is prevalent in both Jordan and Locke’s work. While Locke’s work is an exquisite orchestrated assembly of plastic, Jordan’s work feels like a hazy memory, or a colourful puzzle that needs to be reassembled, perhaps this is because the bits of plastic that were once surrounded by life, even if they were slowly destroying the albatross, just simply now, exist. They just “are”. They are no longer the recognisable form they once were, they no longer serve a function or a purpose, nor do they possess the desirable qualities they once did. They are vestigial, stagnated, and excessive shells of their former selves.
There is Beauty in Death, there is Beauty in Excess.