AEROPLASTICS contemporary: AL FARROW
& group exhibition Hoodoo Eternity - 8 Nov 2012 to 22 Dec 2012
Bombed Mosque, 2010
Guns, gun parts, bullets, steel
103,5 x 143 x 89 cm
AL FARROW, recent work
opening Thursday Nov 8th , until Dec 22
As a pacifist/activist right from the get-go (due to a happy mix of circumstances, he managed to avoid being drafted for Vietnam), Al Farrow scorns firearms. He shot one only once in his life, out of mere curiosity. And so the raw materials of the sculptures in his Reliquaries series on show at Aeroplastics – parts of pistols and machine guns, ammunition of various calibre – were not at first familiar to him. But the artist did indeed get to know them, to ‘domesticate’ them, in order to produce objects that immediately strike us by their technical and formal perfection.
If Al Farrow would by this bent have limited himself to making reduced-scale models of common buildings, his work could pass as an acerbic, perhaps tongue-in-cheek critique of his compatriots outsized passion for guns (something broadly encouraged by lax legislation in this domain). For that matter, the artisanal side of his sculptures reinforces this impression (the feeling that we’re looking at objects produced by a trigger-happy fanatic with an inexhaustible supply of guns and ammo at his disposal).
But what strikes the viewer right from the start, is the very particular nature of the buildings represented in miniature by the assemblage of 9mm cartridges or components of automatic weapons: namely a mosque, a synagogue and a church, i.e. the sacred places of these three revealed religions. In some pieces, the artist takes certain religious objects as his starting point for transformation: like a Menorah whose candle-holders are pistols fixed to the barrel of a machine gun, or a reliquary of Christian inspiration surrounded by four heavy-calibre revolvers. This last example contains something of particular importance when it comes to understanding Al Farrows’ work. The inspiration goes back to his discovery in Florence’s San Lorenzo Basilica of a reliquary containing a finger bone, a bone seemingly bent as if squeezing a trigger.
For the artist, this was the perfect evocation of the chasm that exists between the message of peace promulgated by these religions, the meditative ambiance of their places of prayer, and the violent history that has ever accompanied their expansion. He dedicated his first Reliquary to “Holy war ”, which then becomes “Santo Guerro”, to underscore the historical intersection between religion and armed conflict. Al Farrow seeks more to have us think than to merely provoke us: he sees his works as didactic objects, visual short cuts, in which form and content are in perfect symbiosis. As the case with his first Synagogue (2005), sitting on an uneven base made of various calibre ammunition, and so evoking how new beliefs impose their way by force upon the old. For Mausoleum I (2007), he drew inspiration from the mausoleum of Mohammed Ali Jinnah, first Governor-General of the State of Pakistan, a country whose foundation cost hundreds-of-thousands of lives, Hinduism against Islam. The mosque with bombarded dome, the synagogue (that of Brussels) protected by anti-tank defences fashioned from ammo cartridges, the church bristling with missile-like projectiles: as many signs by which Al Farrow reminds us that these religious places, once considered as places of safe-haven, have today become targets.
Al Farrow insists on the fact that all the components of his sculptures are objets trouvés, and thus carry their own history (like when we find parts of a Nazi weapon in one of his Menorah). Impassioned by African culture (a part of his previous output was directly inspired by his knowledge of ethnic art), he delved into the role played by commemorative objects within traditional societies. Seen from this point of view, his Reliquaries, intentionally rendered in an aggressive and menacing form, are as so many elements necessary for a ritual exorcism that he means to lead, the intention being to have the values of peace and humanism triumph in our world.
& group exhibition
Ryuta Amae, Nicolas Crombez , Andy Diaz Hope & Laurel Roth, Doyle & Mallinson, Christoph Draeger , Bernard Gigounon, Mikel Glass , Robert Gligorov, Gregory Green, Txiki Margalef, Dominic McGill , Tracey Snelling, Pierrick Sorin , Mircea Suciu , Marjan Teeuwen, Kate Waters
director : Jerome Jacobs
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