Standing as a monument to the ignored, a commemorative bust of the ‘Unknown Artist’ interrogates the essence of artwork by elaborating on the relation developed with its maker. Establishing a link to Susan Hiller’s ‘Dedicated to the Unknown Artists’ (1972–6), a work about invisibility is interrogating the weight that is typically placed on authorship when engaging with art. Through an assimilation affair the creator is absorbed in the formation, drawing from the opposition between specificity and abstraction, uniqueness and commonality.
Using physique and more particular the face as a carrier of identity, a self-portrait in absentia is created by a brass sheet ‘forged’ against the contours of my head. Brass, a precious substance traditionally associated with monumental sculpture, demarcates corporeal presence in space enabling the transmutation of the person to an artefact. A process of coalescence unfolds through this almost symbiotic relationship between author and work, with the meaning lying in the relatedness among artist’s body and art object. Turning gesture to sculpture, the procedure is documented through the materiality of the piece as this is imprinted with marks of own bodily presence. Face becomes a tool that manipulates form, whereas the experience of physically reforming the mass is traced with sweat stains, which corrode the metal surface in contact with the creator’s skin.
Converting the fleeting to permanent, action is solidified with a concrete shell that dramatizes the difference of interior and exterior. Concrete, an otherwise architectural and construction material is used to literally cement one’s image, contradicting ephemerality with its permanence. Artwork frames the artist with a structure engineered to enclose in itself the concept of creation. Cast in reformed stone the petrified act evokes a sense of tactility, highlighting the contrast among inner and outer states. In the sharp edges, mineral fragments reveal the ingredients of the composition, while the formation emphasises the medium’s materiality and strength.
Describing the head and its contents, the collaborative relation with the material produces a performance-based sculpture that takes place in unison with the originator’s figure. Commanded by the physical association between the two, projections of self map the interior, creating rhythmic indentations on the surface, allowing work to become an investigation on distortion. Understanding of individual disposition is a critical aspect of the project as embodied in the process. Leaving the trace of identity in the cavity, concealment generates an anonymising effect, commenting on the capacity of the sculpted to describe its creator through omission.
Raising the issue of artistic visibility, as well as the relationship between private and public image, the outlined presence of the creator depicts the struggle of ‘Metamorphosis’ in reference to Kafka’s work, where persona becomes a device to be mastered. Directly linked into feelings of isolation, the self-contained entity allows the sinuous surface to stand anthropomorphically as an extension of obscure character. Suggestive of disconnection from real world solitude creates a shielding to anxiety, while the absence of substance examines what the concealed is able to disclose. Crafting the mass through the organic, the element of existence is expressed in blemishes and marks, giving life to form as the sculpture is sucking life out of me. The title ‘In one ear and out the other’ implies the conflict betwixt meaningful and meaningless, referring to something with no impact, no influence and easily forgotten. The disappearance of the maker validates the emergence of the artwork, converting it to a self-portrait of every invisible creator.