As much as humanity attempts to control social structures and tame natural elements, the looming cycle of decay and rebirth is a stark and inevitable truth, hard to escape. Human tragedy seems to demand a sudden sadness, contrasting to the nonchalant contempt we display for discarded and forgotten objects. Former possessions, meet an unfortunate fate laying in landfill, slowly breaking down and sinking back into the Earth. An unsettling notion that human desire to build indestructible matter, means there are materials that will undoubtedly outlive our own species on this planet. Curated by Martin Mayorga and Vanessa Murrell, ’Prevent This Tragedy,’ presents works from nine artists based on personal perspectives towards ‘Tragedy.’ With many of the artworks site specific, the industrial warehouse setting of Post Institute, provides a fitting back drop for the destructive nature of the mediums on display. A trace of nostalgia lingers in the air, as viewers are confronted with the parallel deterioration and longevity materiality presents.
-You work with a lot of reclaimed objects, what attracts you to the materials you use?
I am interested in working with materials and objects that have been exposed to other histories, that have thereby preserved the memories of now absent human bodies, that have had a previous existence, a purpose, a significance and have now become obsolete. I am often using the remains of buildings and landscapes, fragments of architectures in order to imagine their hypothetical futures and future failures. I am interested in working with the notion of the ruin - as the site of simultaneous accord and conflict between culture and nature, where objects are liberated from their forms and meanings.
-Do you try to convey a certain narrative throughout your work, or do you feel the materials often present their own identities and stories to influence you?
I am currently interested in the intermeshing of the human and natural, and the juxtaposition of solid stratigraphy to the fluidity of material flows. Throughout history, humans have imitated nature to advance civilisation to new stages of development to the point of nature becoming the result of human activity. This activity has created a new additional layer on the surface of the planet - the meeting point of earth and humanity, perpetually displacing one another. In a way I am trying to recreate a ‘human artificial geology’ combining natural formations with processes of mass consumption. It is also a reference to the history of making - with the first tools having been fashioned from stones and these invented ‘last artefacts’ calcifying back into synthetic rocks, being at the same time prehistoric and post-apocalyptic
-The sculpture holds a really powerful presence, did you set out with a form in mind or is the composition an organic result of working directly with the material?
A lot of my work is an attempt to find abstract configurations within recognisable forms. This sculpture began with the pieces of upholstery foam salvaged from old discarded furniture. Its starting point was an object based on human proportions and designed for human convenience extruded to an architectural scale. Through an exaggerated material transformation it started falling into a more abstract and indistinct formal arrangement.
-What was basis for your piece?
The sculpture is made from upholstery foam from recycled furniture soaked in jesmonite and marble dusts tracing the transition of a piece initially made based on human proportions into an abstract geological formation. Suspending the creases made by human weight in a permanent static state, 'lithic' is an attempt at creating artificial rocks out of the relics of our lived environment, suggesting the possibility of continuity between the human body, furniture, architecture and the geology of earth. Resulting from the material processes involved in performing artificial geological acts of sedimentation, it recreates an object in ruin - where furniture and architecture of a once occupied environment have merged with their surrounding nature. It is present as a modified ruin of human existence, tracing the alternative evolution and ageing of architectural and urban materiality.
-I felt like your use of foam was really interesting, because this is essentially a material that appears to be malleable but is essentially indestructible, do you enjoy working with this juxtaposition of fragility and strength?
Yes, I think that juxtaposition is very important for my work. It is often a play on materials and their appearances and objects and their function. Functional objects and and structures are rendered obsolete and materials known for their structural strength obtain new fragile qualities. Also I am interested in the continuity of materials, imagining their alternative ageing processes. In this case upholstery foam, rather than ending up in landfills, is reimagined as incorporating itself harmoniously into the geological layers of the planet.There is also definitely an apocalyptic reference and a sense of ‘decay’ about the works, as they seem to be shown after a certain amount of time has elapsed since someone last interacted with them. They become the artificial ruins of an unidentified environment that seem to belong to a different ‘place’