Oh no, not me

plastic bags
variable dimensions
2015

exhibition view 500 years

Masks and ritual costumes mostly copied from European ethnographic museums are reproduced by weaving together plastic bags. The masks are held up by wooden stands made from sections of a recreation of the iconic modernist Rietveld chair. The interwoven associations create a material and associative dialogue between European modernisation and its on-going impact on other cultures. The work suggests that in facing 500 years of history, Modernism has to come to terms with the legacies, and failures, of its colonial past. A further layer to the work finds analogies between the bags that transport items from one state to the next – store to home – and the tribal masks are often used in rites of passage from one state to the next-boyhood to man, life to death.

“It is finally time for the role that the primitive has played to come front and center and take its place in the accepted ranks of contributors to modernism’s innovations.”
quoted from Sieglinde Lemke’s Primitivist Modernism, Black Culture and the Origins of Transatlantic Modernism, 1998

The 500 years exhibition included three interrelated bodies of work that take the lifespan of a plastic bag as a historical period. Instead of looking forward, however, it looks back to link a period of history that has defined the contemporary age, from the earliest colonisation of Latin America, the Renaissance in Europe and the subsequent modernisation, industrialisation and globalization that pervade contemporary life.

Let’s take off our masks
And be so
naturelle
Let’s behold
ourselves
And break this evil spell

72×62×58cm

Let’s take off our masks
And be so
naturelle
Let’s behold
ourselves
And break this evil spell

detail
72×62×58cm

A tourist in a dream
A visitor it seems
A half-forgotten song
Where do I belong?

135×168×78cm

All the strangers came today
And it looks as though they’re here to stay

72×50×47cm

All the strangers came today
And it looks as though they’re here to stay

detail
72×50×47cm

From your skin I am born again

71×61×58cm

From your skin I am born again

detail
71×61×58cm

Oh no, not me
I never lost control
You’re face to face
With the man who sold the world

108×60×46cm

Oh no, not me
I never lost control
You’re face to face
With the man who sold the world

detail

Of all the guys
And the signori
Who will write
My story

270×120×60cm

I was not caught
Though many tried
I live among you
Well disguised

192×98×94cm