A Giant Consumer’s DNA
Air, liquids, food, ideas, objects, time.
Every second, every cell of our body consumes and produces energy in an on-going dialectic. Every neurone feeds the nervous system with the sensorial stimuli from the environment.
Each synapse generates a web of thoughts absorbed in the abyss of our minds.
My latest artwork shows a visual representation of the consumption practice as structurally embedded in our own DNA and social identity. It does so by putting the relation between need and desire under the spotlight – rather the blurred boundary separating the two. We consume what we need, what we think we need and what we want. This is a highly corporeal type of consumption.
‘A giant consumer’s DNA’, Installation view from ‘Cookies+Coke’ exhibition at the Old Biscuit Factory, London.
I consume even through the process of making the installation itself: revisiting old ideas (working with hair), re-using materials of my previous artworks (reshaping pieces of dry rack) and re-contextualising found objects (e.g. mirrors) in a new visual aesthetic. I realise only now that ‘consumption’ has been an underlaying theme of my previous works, just like an intrinsic leitmotif.
Following up on the organic and aesthetic approach of ‘NU Cell’, ‘A giant consumer’s DNA’ contains rectangular paintings as an alternative way of mirroring the viewer, as a NU portraiture framed by strands of artificial hair. They inject colour into the installation. A new dialogue is thus created between the wavy curls of the hanging hair and the circular brushstroke movement traced on the canvas.
The idea of using hair was instinctively triggered in my mind by the theme of consumption of the group show I took part in. Mass-produced and commercialised, artificial hair is generally consumed as an item of standardised beauty, one that becomes the object of gaze and visual consumption. Its synthetic nature also touches on the collective desire for consuming a perennial beauty. It’s a vicious circle. In my installation, the abundance of hair and the blood-coloured velvet adorn the black metal body of lamps to create a more tridimensional and tactile experience for the viewer. Can you see it? Can you feel it?
The mirror becomes a focal point in the installation that breaks ‘the fourth wall’* aiming to engage the viewer directly. Incorporated in the DNA-shaped dry racks alongside golden bridal buns, the small round mirrors help to create a performative space animated by light and self reflections. Adding to this framework, the sketchbook stands as an autonomous call to introspection. Underneath the black cover, its content unfolds before viewers’ eyes through the turning of each page. Just like the skin, it’s multi-layered structure comprises a collection of distinctive vocabularies, each referencing different meanings negotiated with the ‘reader’. The nucleus is always the mirror – a paradox between the question and the answer to the question of being.
‘A giant consumer’s DNA’ featured in the ‘Cookies+Coke’ group show organised by Art Number 23 at the Old Biscuit Factory in London between 22 and 25 March. It was brought into a visual conversation with the work of nine more artists, including a live performance during the opening night. I am interested in developing the scale of my installation by bringing flesh-like fabric of different tones alongside the three standing structures already created.
*Performance convention marking an invisible ‘wall’ that separates the world of actors world from the one of spectators.