My artwork emerged from a desire to reach out and ask challenging, provocative, questions that go against institutional norms. These questions arose initially around the eroticism versus pornography debate, but developed into an examination of wider social norms. I wanted to ask a few time honoured questions the purpose of art and it’s place in our society.
One of the most influential pieces of art in the 20th century, Marcel Duchamp’s “Fountain”, kick-started the entire conceptual art movement. Duchamp’s work caused much heated debate in the art world at the time, upsetting many of his audience who believed there was no skill involved in the piece and therefore could not be art. Consequently, I have become a big fan of Duchamp’s “Fountain” and the way it stirred the art world was something I wanted to replicate if possible in my own work. The piece had influenced Micheal Craig-Martin, Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin, so I felt in good company and found myself wanting to play with the statement, “Is art simply something you piss on?”
Too often I found myself paying too much attention to the aesthetics of my work, sparing little time for its purpose. I wanted to backtrack and produce a piece that highlighted my attitude towards art and ‘polite’ society, whilst adding a spice of humour to proceedings. This is where the inspiration to piss into my own re-appropriated version of Duchamp’s urinal came from.
Using a second hand urinal I found in the rubble of a building site, a large amount of wood, plaster, tiles and fake turf I fashioned my pissing man - titled him “Centenary” in honour of the 100 year anniversary of Fountain and waited for the opinion of the viewers. Several classed it as an eye saw due to the man’s lack of visual detail or profanity, but some, perhaps more astutely, saw it as a crass two-fingers up to the restrictive experience of my current art education. I used “fake” grass to disguise the paint and place it back into the “real” world of people and objects. Like Anthony Caro, I didn’t want my sculpture to stand in a world separate to the viewers, I wanted my sculpture to somehow acknowledge the public and yet continue to urinate. The plinth was necessary for the working mechanics of the sculpture so I camouflaged it instead like a military commander. An act of subtle visual warfare. I chose to photograph the sculpture placed on the centre of a golf course putting green; the ultimate bourgeois environment in which to piss. It does not look as if it’s on a plinth, but merges its peculiarly square shaped hill as part of the surrounding landscape. The acknowledgment of the importance of audience, albeit with gold club in hand, adds a sense of disdain to my piece, a feeling of independence in my sculpture.