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Situating My Practice

A Brief Overview

My art practice mainly developed from within the sphere of graphical design, advertising and illustration. My earlier work often adopted the vernacular of advertising, corporate identity and the packaging of brand name commodities to vehicle social commentary and critique upon contemporary cultural society, consumerism, morality and the human condition. My work involves the use of  image manipulation (either by hand or through digital means) and often incorporates elements of collage and photomontage. I enjoy interpolating existing objects and images; giving them new meanings and values. I recontextualize them to suit my own specific purposes and what I want to communicate.

Package Your Head
1999
Digital printing onto 110gsm Stock Card constructed into mini sculpture.
The Boxes each represent the functions of the physical brain.

When situating my practice within the wider context of art, it positions itself historically and theoretically the closest, towards the cultural movement of Dadaism (1916 to 1922) and also with the revolutionary Surrealists of the 1920s. The Dadaist and Surrealist Max Ernst (1891-1976) had identified that the practice of  image manipulation required “…critical,selective involvement with existing form and content.1”   Ernst also wonderfully asserted that: “…Collage technique is the systematic exploitation of chance or artificially provoked confrontation of two mutually alien realities…and the poetic spark which jumps across when these realities approach each other…2”.

In having interests in themes concerning morality, excess, the carnivalesque and the abject, I came to realize that the ideals expressed in Dadaism as indeed Surrealism were concomitant with these themes – particularly with the abjective. If we consider French author Julia Kristiva’s definition of  abjection as being: “…what disturbs identity, system, order, what does not respect borders positions rules. The in-between, the ambiguous, the composite…3” then the act of manipulating or bastardizing an image or fusing signs together to infer a specific meaning, to create a polysemy of new meanings or a “metaphoricity gone wild 4” is abject in its very notion.

Detail from some of the booklets (unfolded) that are found within each of the boxes from Package Your HeadEach booklet represents the subconscious parts of the brain.

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1. (Ed)Spies, Werner. Max Ernst A Retrospective, Prestel, 1991 p.22

2. Elger, Dietmar. Dadaism, Taschen, 2006 p.74

3. Whitney Museum of American Art. Abject art : repulsion and desire in American art : selections from the permanent collection. Catalog of an exhibition held June 23 – August 29, 1993, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, N.Y.ISBN:0-87427-090-1, 1993 pp. 7

4. Grundenberg, Christoph. Jake and Dinos Chapman , Bad Art for Bad People, Tate, 2007 p.12