BRISTOL.- Spike Island
has commissioned Glasgow-based artist Clare Stephenson to develop a new installation for summer 2009. She-who-Presents is Stephensons first major solo show in a public gallery.
The artist has created a series of monumentally-scaled, monochromatic androgynous figures who vie for the attention of the viewer. The figures start life as small collaged works on paper with elements taken from Gothic sculpture and architecture a carved shell becomes a fan, masonry is transformed into a fancy hat, male statues become feminine composites. Transposed from delicate works on paper to 8ft screen-printed cut outs, the figures are propped and posed in an intense tableaux as if awaiting their audience, resplendent against a brilliant yellow stage.
She-who-Presents is a continuation of Stephensons most recent body of work which draws on both the art of the late 19th and early 20th centuries and French literature, in particular the exuberant language of Jean Genets transvestites from Notre-Dame des Fleurs (Our Lady of the Flowers, 1944). Stephensons figures with titles such as 'Miss Verily-Existent, Miss Quite Transcendent and She-who-Presents are therefore not fully rounded characters but rather posed allegories, personifying philosophical arguments and acting out existentialist questions with exaggerated gestures. They are self-consciously divine and playfully mischievous in attitude; the artist adopting camp culture as a way of both asserting and questioning the value of art, artifice and object making.
Clare Stephenson: Born in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in 1972, Stephenson graduated from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, Dundee in 1996 before serving on Glasgows Transmission Gallery committee. Exhibitions in 2009 include 'The Dirty Hands', CCA, Glasgow with Alex Pollard; 'The Associates', Dundee Contemporary Arts; 'Being and Nothingness' Light & Sie Gallery, Dallas Texas; Compass in Hand MoMA, New York and a solo exhibition at Schurmann Berlin. The artist is represented by Sorcha Dallas, Glasgow.
New works for the exhibition have been made through Spike Print Studio one of the UKs oldest and largest print-making collectives.