Edward Payne


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As a Sculptor I see my work as being primarily concerned with dealing with problems in space. It is easy to see this as a slightly out of touch academic concern, but then dealing with space can become a highly politically charged issue- most conflicts boil down to issues over space whether a fight on an overcrowded tube or the situation between Israel and Palestine. So I became increasingly interested in using this seemingly academic concern in a wide politically charged way, not spelling out a situation but using peoples direct experience of space to talk about something universal.

The initial concept for the work is to put a 'lock-on'* into a gallery context. This brings into play a new set of dynamics. The work is presented as a traditional sculpture, the 'viewer isn't told that he can touch (/use) the work, but at the same time it is just the contraventions of the setting suggest that he cant. If he wanted to the viewer could 'lock-on' to the sculpture and take charge of the situation (At the same time if he actually did this it would be questionable to what extent he is acting as a puppet for the artist), he could transcend the normal position of 'viewer'. The conflict that this highlights is one with strict rules where a chess game can be played by the two sides. Without human rights laws this kind of action would be easily crushed. It is a conflict where an individual believes in something enough to take on a faceless authority.

I got stuck at this initial premise for a while. In a sense the idea seems complete as it is, but then it needs a physical form. This sounds like a simple thing but it becomes problematic. The first point was to think that the 'lock-on' should some how be the 'lock-on' -the essence of a lock-on. This quickly turned out to be a dead-end. The nature of the object is that it takes different forms. It has to remain inconspicuous until it is needed, and the bailiffs cannot know how to dismantle it. There are certain characteristics that it must have (immobile etc.), but beyond that it needs to be dynamic. There is inevitably a home-made aesthetic to it.

I have developed the current form for the work. The Shuttering from casting the concrete is left on making the construction process central to the work. On two sides the shuttering takes the form of bookshelves pointing to a collective theoretical conciousness which places itself apart from the instinctive nature of violence, but often provides both the motives and explanations for conflict. Throughout the sculpture the idea of 'locking-on' is reiterated with chain, bolts, clamps, wing-nuts etc.

A diagram which hints at the position of the human in the sculpture is clamped twice to the shelves. One for both the 'X' and 'Y' axis, together with the thickness of the ream of paper supporting the 2D image help concrete the works position in space.

Concrete is pored into the top, making the sculpture a real usable object, acknowledging the contradictions involved in 'saving the planet' and indeed any war. I have also left a carabina and a length of chain on one of the bookcases. The 2D image points to its use, the carabina could have been replaced with a padlock, but practically both are just as effective in the impending situation. A lock would suggest dominance and repression in its use, but a carabina reinforces the point that the person who uses it is in control of his personal actions, he is not stuck there, it is his will to be there and the most effective way of moving him is persuasion. For people who work at heights a carabina is a life-preserving object, whereas a lock suggests imprisonment and guarding personal property. Besides its function the hole in the sculpture into which the viewer is tempted references artists such as Moore and Hepworth who put the hole through the sculpture to connect the front and back, now the hole connects the interior to the exterior and the viewer is an integral part to this, and in a way an inverse reflection of Antony Gormley's 'Allotment'.

* An immovable object to which a person can fix themselves to so that they cannot be moved. They are used at protest sites, for the protester to take control of the space and stop the proposed action. The effectiveness depends on the human rights laws of the country in which the action is taking place. In an anarchic or totalitarian situation the blockade would be useless as direct violent force could be used to easily remove the protester. Its effectiveness depends on the game of chess that develops when the bailiff cannot physically harm the protester. To ensure the rules are kept the protester needs to enlist the help of an impartial observer to monitor proceedings. A U-lock around the neck is an effective lock on. although this is not the purpose of a U-lock. Using a section of drainpipe and some concrete it is possible to make a lock-on. This can be made free-standing, entwined in tree roots, underground or even in a car to make it portable. The idea is that you can lock part of your body inside the block of concrete so that the bailiff has to cut through that before he gets to the lock. pieces of metal etc. should be added to the concrete to make it slower to get through.


Edward Payne 2006.