accompanying text for 'LEGACY OF BRUTALITY'
(Heterotopias) … are something like counter-sites, a kind of effectively enacted utopia in which the real sites, all the other real sites that can be found within the culture, are simultaneously represented, contested, and inverted. Places of this kind are outside of all places, even though it may be possible to indicate their location in reality.
The heterotopia is capable of juxtaposing in a single real place several spaces, several sites that are in themselves incompatible.
Michel Foucault, from ‘Of Other Spaces: Utopias and Heterotopias’
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I make work fuelled by the desire to create anachronistic niches; capsules that delineate heterotopias in which object, art object, landscape and interior space all fold into one another. This temporal alchemy is enacted through digital painting and collage.
The ‘paintings’ I am able to make in the virtual workspace of Photoshop are simulacra. They ape the characteristic organicism of pigment on linen and offer the viewer a chance to be fooled into thinking they are looking at a reproduction of a painting. I revel in the fact that these works exist solely in an illuminated digital ether; a place of unreality and severe connectivity. This seems to be an appropriate space in which to force new heterotopias into being.
The experience of being inside a museum is a great source of inspiration for me. I experience a sense of austere listlessness intermingled with extreme intrigue whilst wandering through the rooms and corridors of places such as the V&A, The British Museum and The Sir John Soane’s Museum. I aim to investigate the haunting, ghostly and traumatic residue that has built up in such museums due to the unabashed and continual rape of the old colonies and the merciless pillaging of cultural artefacts. I pluck digital imagery from the online archives of various institutions and reanimate them within the vivid non-spaces of my heterotopic ‘paintings’. The gloomy atmosphere and discordant colour composition of the work alludes to the sombre attitude I have towards the displaced, often stolen objects contained within these museums.
Foucault in his essay, ‘Of Other Spaces: Utopias and Heterotopias’, refers to museums as, ‘heterotopias of indefinitely accumulating time … in which time never stops building up and topping its own summit …’ This notion of developing a seemingly unending archive of artefacts from a plethora of different eras and aesthetic modes is how I view my own practice. The works that I make are rubbish dumps for borrowed loops, abortive sketches and images taken from the World Wide Web whose provenance has long since disappeared into the digital fog. Schlock horror motifs proudly propped on display plinths, mundane artefacts placed artfully in Kallax units, Koi Carp, tomato plants, and other bits of digital ephemera all mass together to form dioramas that surround spectral figures who are engaged in various ambiguous rituals. They appear displaced and beset by an inane mania; forever grinning in a kind of art historical purgatory. My intention is to encourage the viewer to scrutinise and question the perceived immutable truth and authority of art historical documentation and museological presentation by creating my own skewed and reconstituted virtual museum.