Rawhide 20092 - 25 April 2009
Rawhide consists of a series of works made of toothpicks. Experimentation with the mass of raw material led to works that evoked dissolution as the unleashing of the bulk matter threatened order and control. Instrumental to my acceptance of materiality and its inevitable collapse has been Yve-Alain Bois and Rosalind Krauss’ Formless: a user’s guide. In the opening chapter Bois emphasizes the “operation that displaces both form and content and instigates a slide towards lowness”. A shift of emphasis to the foundations of matter permits a relationship to materials that is liberating from academic art training. Words such as entropy, scatology, dissolution, collapse, base materialism and carnal that feature in Formless have informed how I approached the materials, allowed them to be in dialogue with the process and embraced the forces that work upon them.
Associative interpretation is another device I have applied to allow forms to evolve. In the Surrealist novel Story of the eye George Bataille uses an interchangeable pattern of metaphors. Bataille’s globular/ocular metaphors (eye, egg, balls) are crossed with the avatars of liquid (tears, milk, yoke, urine) creating a spherical chain of associations. Ever since encountering the book this approach, which ensures there are no fixed meanings, rather an ambiguous reading of form and material, has profoundly influenced my creative process. For instance I start with the notion of terrain leading to the following chain: spinifex, grassy plain, hair, ruff of a dogs neck, etc. The use of spikes to construct imagined landscapes gives them an uncomfortable edge. A mindscape is rendered: sharp, pointed, prickly, spiny, barbs and bristly yet antithetically from a distance the appearance is soft and tactile.