Pippa Eason | Set in Stone | October 2016
Set in Stone is an exhibition that is comprised of 10 sculptures made specifically for BasementArtsProject. The works on display have no individual titles yet none are untitled as all come under the collective moniker of Set in Stone. Eason’s practice is one of re-use and remix, with many objects from Set in Stone having been seen before as part of other sculptures and in very different contexts. Consistent with another aspect of her practice, that of site-specificity, all of the sculptures that are the constituent parts of this exhibition where conceived for the venue, and for this venue alone. That is not to say that you are unlikely to see these objects again, but it is highly unlikely that they will be seen again in the same form, for as their setting changes so do they.
One of the largest works on display as part of Set in Stone is a large oblate spheroid object whose surface shifts between pink, turquoise and aquamarine dependent upon where the light catches it. The object is encased in a faux gold chain giving it the feeling of being anchored to the floor. On the ground beneath the work, a shimmering layer of glitter dispersed unevenly towards the edges of the room gives an uneasy sense of the floor moving as you approach it. This work, although completely new, does share a strategy in common with a previous work entitled ‘Sediment’. All of these works are constructed in the manner that their titles suggest with layer upon layer of material. It is impossible to know what, if anything, is at the heart of these objects or even if it is important that there may or may not be. Like Duchamp’s ‘A Bruit Secret’ we have to imagine what might be at the heart of these ambiguous creations.
When discussing the initial concept of this exhibition in the studio with Eason, the sedimentary nature of her creative practice seemed to run parallel with another strand of thought, present in much of her work, surrounding kitsch objects; that which is cheap and mass produced. Although typified by gaudiness, sentimentality and often the melodramatic Eason’s work is no ironic passion for trash. Instead it is a careful rummage through some of the most iconic symbols of our generation, and an exploration of a society whose position is predicated on the idea of instant gratification; a gratification that is simultaneously somehow permanently delayed. Having exhibited her artworks against the more traditional tabula rasa of the white wall environment, the nature of Set in Stone has instead taken on something of an archeological undertone. Here in the darkness of the subterranean environment the artworks are imbued with a different significance, no longer are they new objects, covered in gold and shouting gregariously about their status in contemporary society, instead they feel lost, symbols of a bygone age once loved but now abandoned, waiting to be uncovered by a future civilisation. Each object in this exhibition has a dual identity, on the one hand they are to be considered artworks; objects traditionally fetishised for their singularity, value and originality. On the other hand they are also still kitsch objects; cheap, mass produced and without value. Considering the split personality of these sculptures and their inevitable future, being dismantled and reconstituted in different forms ad infinitum, we are left with two questions: How do we place a value upon such an object? And how does the work of the artist gain provenance if, after each successive exhibition the work as it is recognized ceases to exist?
Set in Stone is an amorphous installation despite the individual objects having been created in the studio. Eason describes the installation as a whole as being something like ‘the aftermath of an inexplicable event’. The individual works are culled from a world of material that could be considered detritus from the moment that it is produced. Here it is saved and given an opportunity to live fully. In amongst the glittery Armageddon of the Basement environment the objects seem to grow out of the very fabric of the building, every crack and crevice spilling forth a myriad of shiny wonders. Spider webs suspend a shower of golden glitter, a frozen moment above a scene of structured chaos. Despite 3.5kgs of pink and gold glitter, images of Donald Trump and Kylie Jenner, an abundance of dollar signs, cacti and even a plastic replica handgun decorated in pink and gold, never once does Set in Stone devolve into actual chaos. Everything is planned in meticulous detail, over the top without charging off the edge. The fact that Eason knows where to stop is what prevents her art from becoming the kitsch that it critiques. This is work that is all about surface, and the disappointment that lurks not far beneath.
Bruce Davies | November 2016
Photographs courtesy Bruce Davies
Friday 14th October 7.30pm – 9.30pm
Saturday 15th October 2pm – 4pm
Sunday 16th October 2pm – 4pm
Monday 17th October 11am – 2pm
Saturday 22nd October 2pm – 4pm
Sunday 23rd October 2pm – 4pm
Monday 24th October 11am – 2pm
And at other times by appointment
Lunchtime Conversations: Pippa Eason