Increasingly, my practice reflects on the failing ideals of modernity. Stemming from the post-modern turn away from ‘the Truth’, a collapse of faith in authority, and the dissolving purity of universal principle; I am motivated by notions of aspiration, futility, and socio-political impotence.
Performances formatted as participatory games pit contestants against punitive and rigged rules. Mechanics such as audience votes, and team-picking draw on populism and soft power facilitate senses of factionalism. The model of the gameshow creates parameters through which audiences are allowed to engage, with spectators ‘buying-in’ to rules and restrictions in order to take part. The games inevitably misbehave, be that through props which don’t work or win conditions that can’t be met. By the point of revelation, contestants have already given up autonomy to play, and accepting the rules to participate itself precludes their success. These elements usually unfold through landscapes of bodily imagery and political references, regurgitated through gameshow aesthetics. I aim to draw parallels between socio-political impotence, complicity as a bio-political tool in which false-expectations draw us in to supporting the very conditions which hold us back, and notions of ‘oppositional camaraderie’ - the trap that by rooting for your team to win, you hope for another team to lose. These draw from the collapse of the social contract, post-truth and economic inequality. Playing by the rules is a losing strategy. Compliance doesn’t avert disaster.
Within my sculptural works, I create failed monuments, presenting bodily objects which evoke modernist figurative abstraction, but enfeebled, broken or sad. The anthropomorphised tooth, cracked and slouched on a pillar envisions the body as monument, but where the promise of immortalisation and reverence has begun to disintegrate, and the timelessness of modernity has run out of time.
Self-perception of the body in relation to social power dynamics runs throughout my practice. Works such as ‘The Dolphin and the Bear’ reflect how digital spectatorship and online dating growingly facilitate a marketplace of bodies. Apps such as Grindr codify potential romantic or sexual partners through a grid, with squares of torsos cutting the soft edges of the body into boxes to pick and choose from. These networks encourage unhealthy self-regulation of the body. To be muscular, to be completely hairless, to be ‘masc’ enough or ‘femme’ enough are all pressures to compete, to present, to perform, to constantly monitor your body in relation to its digital manifestation. In these spaces, your body becomes your brand, and the self-ideation of the profile speaks to a reincarnation of the modernist monument.