In 2017 I saw Marc Quinn’s Drawn from Life exhibition at Sir John Soane’s Museum. This encounter between the historic collection and contemporary sculpture was so inspiring that I kept envisioning objects from my own body of work in the context of the museum. What triggered my particular interest was the character of the collection. It appeared to manifest the active workings of the collector, put together not merely as an eccentricity, but as a very functional, form of research into pattern and archetype that had obviously continued throughout Soane’s career. The variety and quantity of art and artefacts collected, and their arrangement within the space, transcended the appearance of any hands-on engagement by Soane, making it a real Wunderkammer.
With the following thoughts I proposed an exhibition of vases and objects that focus on reading silhouettes and the capacity of objects to convey the spirit of their time. My work is very much focussed on exploring archetypes. The collection that Soane put together throughout his life seems to have a similar emphasis. Starting from this common ground there are all the visual correlations and contradictions between past and present. To make a point about the historic transformation of form and the inherent attitude I would like to include Duchamp’s 3 Standard Stoppages as a mirror to look closer at the meaning of outlines and their production.
Let me briefly describe my working practice before developing the exhibition proposal more fully. For many years I have been working around archetypical ideas of vases. These common domestic forms have reflected the zeitgeists of culture for millennia. Most vases are rotationally symmetric and can be described as having an axially rotated silhouette. Besides decoration, material and quality of workmanship, it is the silhouette line that conveys the character of an entire period. They open up a field of reflection on the variations found in archetypal forms. Thus, I have continuously experimented around this variation, always searching for contemporary interpretation.
Over the last few years I have mainly worked with casting porcelain vases in a box of sand. It is a non-technology as I simply dig a hole in sand with my hands and cast the hollow. The form of the hollow can either be the result of a prolonged period of reflection and careful execution, or a very spontaneous act—the outcome of happenstance and gesture. But despite the blurring of form caused by my digging gestures caught in the surfaces of the objects, transferred from sand to porcelain, the distinguishable vase silhouette remains, effecting their transition from container to culture.
My vase forms are not a product of chance however, unlike Marcel Duchamp’s 3 Standard Stoppages (1913). In this artwork, Duchamp preserves the physical manifestation of chance: the curved lines of his forms are derived from the arbitrary act of dropping a piece of yarn on a board. It is interesting to consider that if rotated, these chance outlines found in Duchamp’s 3 Standard Stoppages would quite likely create an object that would be recognisable as a vase form.