Taxidermy with Tim A Shaw
12 dec 2014 by Milda Batakyte
On the evening December 3rd, the curator Jonathan Wanono and art:i:curate invited the members to an intriguing attraction – the taxidermy which was carried out by London-based artist Tim A Shaw.
The famous art historian Ernst Gombrich said, “There really is no such thing as Art. There are only artists.” In collaboration with the French design brand Ligne Roset, art:i:curate brought to a daylight an extremely interesting case of the London-based artist Tim A Shaw and his works of art, which in a sense tell a story about us - the human beings and our ephemeral corporeal existence.
On the guests’ arrival to the Salon, Tim was already carefully working on a little fish that would eventually turn into the interior detail and a work of art in the few following steps. When asked about why he decided to sacrifice the fish for the sake of art and creativity, he answered that the flesh of the fish is a symbol for the flesh of a human body. Moreover, as for the work itself, since only the skeleton and the skin are needed, “you can make a delicious casserole with it”, mischievously smiled the artist.
The process of making the Fish Light sculpture somehow reminds Kafka’s Metamorphosis: from being a lively creature, in one day it is turned into an immobile art decoration with a light bulb in its mouth. What a paradox of life! The fish ad hoc is a tool to express the artist’s experience and the thoughts on the perpetuum mobile of different paradoxes in the human life.
When taking an overall look at the history of contemporary art, the materials that Tim is using do not seem shocking anyhow. There were so many more peculiar cases, like eating a new-born, or cutting one’s skin and replacing it with artificial materials, etc. For Tim and the hard-boiled society of intellectuals, the materials that he is employing are no more than another kind of stuff that Mother Nature is providing to us. Tim grew up in a family of surgeons, and the topics about sex reassignment surgery, visits to the clinics and meetings with the patients once in a while would not be a big deal. The skin, flesh, and a scalpel were as familiar to him as bricks and cement would be to a kid from a family of builders.
Between the other works that appear on the walls at the Ligne Roset is Tim’s tour de force of the collage. The Body Suit are a series of extremely well-composed Frankensteins which were scrupulously executed with the precision of a surgeon.
The series of collages is about the cultural, social archetypes and the individuals in our postmodern society with their desires and blind need for social approval for one's ambitions. It all boils down to the circumscribed attitude of the individual to change and to perfect “my body a besieged fortress” in an uncanny kind of way. It lies somewhere between the two lines said by Jackson Pollock “I do not paint nature. I am nature.” But instead this process is usually lacking poetic beauty and is, just as Tim describes his assemblages, grotesque.
When it comes to the art Tim makes, you will never know for sure whether your sensations are as aesthetically charged, or indeed pleasurable, as those of other people. Nevertheless, it is a silent agent that would not impose anything, but simply raise the existential and moral questions, and would leave the spectators shrugging their shoulders.