Pine, Fire-Retardant Foam, Plywood, Sand, Vinyl sticker, Steel Chains, Hand-Lathed Wooden Bat, Copper pins, Water-based Spray Paint, Padlocks, Steel-fittings, Shackles, Bubble Wrap, Duct Tape
‘Substitute’ takes the form of a large foam ‘topsy-turvy doll’ (a toy that constantly uprights itself after being struck) chained and padlocked to a hand-lathed baseball bat by a long steel chain.
Each object features a vinyl sticker of myself as a character reminiscent of a clown, fool and/or jester, and references the concept of the ‘jester’s marotte’; a prop stick or sceptre with a carved head on it. The word is borrowed from the French, where it signifies either a fool’s (literal) “bauble” or a fad.’
The two fools, one malicious (on the bat), and one pitiful (on the doll), reference the conceptual lynchpin of my practice, that of reflections and othering, as a way of darkly surreal humour. Relating to this, the piece is interactive and invites the viewer to ‘play their role’ in the theatrical aspects of the work – they act as ‘violent abuser’ in the conceptual performance of the piece at large; that of relived trauma.
The beauty of the piece is that it draws people in with the ‘play’, providing comedic relief in the act of play fighting with the doll, before the dawning of the fact that they are ‘aiding’ in the act of ‘beating myself up’ (self inflicted destruction, informed by traumatising experiences in the life of the artist) – the darkness, like boiling water, is just bubbling under the surface. Here, the act of violence drags the viewer into the experiential performance of self-loathing, and self-inflicted violence, held within the piece.
Drawing someone in through the proposal and suggestion of something engaging and therapeutic, only to pull the rug out beneath the viewer by highlighting that their ‘therapy’ is in fact beating me up (or at the very least, just a version of me made to be as ‘targetable’ as possible).
This notion of the ‘target’ was inspired by something my grandmother remarked on when I was home recently and had started to present as feminine after I had just come out;
‘Just, please don’t make a target of yourself’.