The Sword of State Shakes in my Hand
The Sword of State Shakes in my Hand, was the culmination of my exploration of the relationship of between my, and those within my social group's status in Britain, and the history of exploitation that affords us this position. Comprised of a 50 x 2.4m long roll of paper, the shape and form of this piece was the eventual result of multiple experiments, attempting to convey the magnitude and lineage of this theme. The curves and folds in the roll represent the omnipresence of certain events in history and how they seem to transcend the passing of time, remaining poignant in the present day. Achieved through the difficult shaping and bending of this enormous stretch of paper, the effect draws in the viewer. Pulling them to the epicentre of confusion occupying the inner concave curve. The content of the drawings, are a visual representation of the attempt to come to terms with the inherited privilege of being born as a White, British, Male. The different drawing styles utilised and the disparate nature of the images add to the maelstrom of turmoil attempting to convey this confrontation with ones historic standing. Images selected form minor narratives, utilising Sergei Eisenstein's Intellectual Montage or Third Image Theory. Their combination or juxtaposition asking questions or providing conclusions for the viewer.
The images in the work include, portraits of British industrialists and scientists such as: Brunel, Stephenson and Newton as well as statues of Clive of India, Victoria and Augustus Caesar. Contemporary footballers such as David Beckham and Frank Lampard join the murderers of Stephen Lawrence. Lawrence's portrait bolstered by a plinth, as with those of the statues of 18th century imperialist in a message about the rightful change in the idolisation of British martyrs. The printed portraits of Nelson and Wellington included are worked over. Their surroundings displaying my inability to conclude moral judgment on their character. They join film stills from the 1964 film Zulu. Themselves collaged over with images including that of Palo Uccello's St George slaying the Dragon and the depiction of a scene from the Shawn Meadows movie This is England. Dominating this part of the piece is an enormous recreation of the cartoon The Rhodes Colossus, a symbol of British colonialism in the 19th and 20th centuries. It is layered over with modern images symbolising the modern Neo-colonialist exploitation of Africa, now more commonly perpetrated by corporations such as Apple, Tesla and Microsoft these symbols take the form of iphones, Apple Macs and Kim Kardashian crying over the loss of a diamond earring.
Though no conclusion is drawn from the execution of this piece, I feel the works completion allowed for the acceptance of ambiguity to influence my later work. I try to avoid didacticism in my work, there can be no final word in this matter. Only the evolution of thought, based on as much knowledge and understanding as possible. This piece is not the scientific certainty of enlightenment thinking, it is instead the acceptance of the fact that the predication of that kind of thinking allowed for the atrocities of imperialist exploitation. The work shows progression and growth and expunges biased and ignorance inherited along with the sword of state, held firmly by Wellington in this piece, but shaking in my hand.