'The Entire History of You'
My Unit 4 VCE Art final explores the cultural obsession for the preservation of all things, seen across both a traditional and contemporary setting. Through the use of perishable sugar as my central medium, the connotation of ephemerality is applied to my artwork. Just as the gumpaste flowers and fruit of the artwork will disintegrate with time, so will the human constructs and media they depict.
Furthermore, the interactive nature of the work bids the viewer to enter the space and consider their own mortality, through the inclusion of the viewer into the artwork. This atmosphere of nihilism has a sense of foreboding and uses as its inspiration both the painting style of Dutch Vanitas and the concept of ‘momento mori’ (“remember you will die”), a sentiment often expressed during the Baroque period.
Explore my creative process in the slides below.
The SD card placed on the plates of the installation symbolises the contemporary form of preservation as it is seen today; through cameras and digital images that preserve memory. This concept stands in for contemporary conveyers of visual media, while the still life arrangements of the table stands in as the traditional forms of immortalisation. The juxtaposition of these elements creates a dialogue between the past and present, and invites the audience to reflect on the history of visual language. As inspiration, I noted NGV’s curating choice of placing Ron Mueck’s “Mass” 2017 in the same room as the Dutch and Flemish Masters paintings to encourage the idea of historical critique and comparison between the two eras of art.
The overflowing bouquets and lavish platters of fruit and food, coupled with theatrical lighting, mirrors both common still life subject matter and the high contrast tenebrism of Baroque painting. This effectively brings the viewer back to a time of old and captivates them in the luxury and drama of the 17th and 18th century. While constructing my gumpaste fruit, I was greatly influenced by Jan Davidz De Heem’s “Still Life with Fruit” 1640-1650 in his observation of light and texture playing across an object to add a sense of enthralling realism.
At the same time, the presence of the compact SD card undercuts this immersive atmosphere and encourages the audience to consider the beauty and opulence of traditional expressions of media, while recognising the exclusive nature of these paintings, as they were only to be commissioned and enjoyed by the wealthy. This stands in contrast to contemporary representations of media, that can be considered clinical but accessible and egalitarian for a new era of expression for all.