shotofbeauty

Turner Prize Entry: Lucy Skaer

In art|BOOK on November 12, 2009 at 3:27 pm

Black Alphabet (2008)

Lucy Skaer, nominated for her solo exhibition at the Fruitmarket Gallery and A Boat Used as a Vessel at the Kunsthalle Basel, provides the spectator with an array of challenges to the eye. Using photographic sources, Lucy aims to transform a simple picture from one state to another, testing the perception of 2D and 3D boundaries in her artwork. 

Skaer’s concept of image translation can definitely be identified in Thames and Hudson (2009), an installation that is reflective of an art-book publisher and/or two cities with their two rivers. The image of a wooden chair projects from one piece to another from a physical wooden chair to a calligraphy style print that is almost reminiscent of an algebraic equation.  Skaer covered parts of the chair in black ink and produced the 2D print, which appears behind the chair in the centre of the installation. There seems to be a recurring theme in the works of this artist of removing an image from its context.  By looking at both 2D and 3D parts, there becomes a constant comparison between different forms, which is ultimately a test to the viewing experience.   Skaer believes that translation between pieces results in a “graphic return to the real world”

By slowing down the understanding of these contributions, the works become reduced to the art of looking itself.  Leviathan and Edge (2009), a partial sperm whale skeleton, definitely proves this point.  The installation can only be seen through vertical breaks in two false walls and there is a distinction between details and the whole.  The spectator takes more time to consider the piece and therefore more detail is discovered at an immediate viewpoint.

Black Alphabet (2008) appears as a flock of coal dust sculptures that feature as a repetition of Brancusi’s Bird in Space (1923).  Skaer produces the sculpture 26 times, the total of times that Brancusi produced the work. Dependent on angle, the piece reveals a medley of different letter-looking shapes. It could be said that this piece holds significance on the basis that Bird in Space (1923) acted as the foundation of a lawsuit which challenged what constitutes art.  As Skaer aims to challenge the perspective of the viewer, implementing images into different forms, this would certainly have influenced her decision to create Black.

Skaer can be commended on her transformation of simple images into ambiguous artwork.   Her works lie somewhere in between reality and imagination, delaying comprehension and directing the audience to differentiate between mental and physical landscapes.

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