GOODWIN, Richard, 1953
Prosthetic resort II, 2001
bike, plywood, steel plate, sail cloth
120.0 cm x 100.0 cm x 200.0 cm
Courtesy of Boutwell Draper Gallery, Sydney; Christine Abrahams Gallery, Melbourne
Prosthetic resort II continues my interest in the zone where the body ends and architecture begins. This work extends the notion of 'Exoskeleton', or the idea that the human condition is insect-like.
The final sculpture uses a bicycle and sailcloth to help form a prosthetic for the body. These elements are combined with a series of fabricated shells in steel, which owe their morphology to the panels on a helicopter. The helicopter parts are sourced at the scale of the model and are another way of using readymades prior to fabrication. Helicopters are body-buildings rich with insect-like metaphor.
The translation of these parts into steel on a different scale provides elements of ambiguous meaning. Their original meaning is subverted via the process of making art.
I trained as an architect before becoming a sculptor and often find myself between worlds. This condition is echoed when one enters public space to produce art. Outside the gallery, the artist is marginalised, forced to occupy the spaces between buildings and on the sidewalk. However, from this marginal position one can question the definition of architecture by creating habitation within public space and by shifting the site of public art to the very skin of architecture. This is the art of prosthesis. Public art can use architecture as its armature in the same way that this sculpture uses the bicycle.
Prosthetic resort II suggests the possibility of habitation within the public realm without really providing this possibility. It appears to have come from some action in the street. The cloth fulfils the function of flesh as a metaphor giving the sculpture the sense that it inhabits itself. I have been using clothing, with its memory of the body, in my sculpture and installations for twenty-five years. At each scale the type of cloth changes to suit the purpose. Within a gallery it is clothing, while at the architectural scale it becomes stretched plastic or sailcloth.
In Prosthetic resort II, the cloth suggests a possible bed as well as the occupying body. The play of spaces and penetrations in the sculpture speak an architectural language divorced from place. Improvisation with the elements of the bike and the steel shells suggest survival, but in what set of conditions? The viewer is left to speculate about what conditions created such an attempt at habitation and for what unknown loss this apparatus provides prosthesis. Is it a 'resort' to which one has retreated or is it the 'last resort' of architecture within the city?
Richard Goodwin, September 2001
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