Thursday, 22 September 2011
Changing Places, Phil Sayers and Rikke Lundgreen
"Cross-purposes – Looking again at Victorian collections." Sheila McGregor
The implied link between sexuality and death in Segantini’s painting (The Punishment of Lust – 1891) points to one of the most curious and remarked upon aspects of Victorian portrayals of women: the tendency to show the fallen or damaged woman in a state of trance-like immobility. This pictorial and sculptural elision of sexuality, sleep and death has intriguing psychological connotations, hinting as it does at the capacity of women to sustain an interior existence beyond the control and understanding of men. Driven by extremes of experience into a state of emotional retreat, women are simultaneously the victims of male oppression and the agents of their own emancipation, which they often achieve through an act of extravagant self-destruction [as Ophelia and the Lady of Shalott examples].
Nowhere perhaps is this theme more strikingly manifested than in sculpture, where the inherent inertness of the stone or marble contrasts with the sinuous realism of the sculptor’s modelling of the female form. Edward Onslow Ford’s Snowdrift (1901) in the Lady Lever Art Gallery personifies the spirit of winter as a naked woman who lies in a pose of exhausted abandon on the icy ground. Conceived in the tradition of funeral sculpture, it is an image that seems to hover uneasily between life and death. Lundgreen explores the thematic ambiguity and erotic languor of the sculpture by re-creating the pose and overlaying images of her own naked body with the original, thus intermingling reality and representation in a way that underscores the virtuosity of Onslow Ford’s sculptural achievement, while also revealing its weirdness as a metaphorical description of winter.
"To pass, Passing and to Come." Lindsay Smith
In [Lundgreen’s] Slow Fade (…), inspired by Edward Onslow Ford’s Snowdrift (1901) we encounter a paradox of of stone (marble) that harbours metamorphosis, change within petrification. The symbolist sculpture made from green onyx, lapis lazuli with silver mounts and black marble achieves its own polychrome, while Lundgreen juxtaposes her own body upon it in polychromatic form. The video morphing of flesh and stone wherebya white marble hand and foot spills out as flesh, is configured with flesh, engenders a simultaneously life-like and yet deathly form.