I graduate this Thursday from Edinburgh Napier University with a Bachelor (Honours) degree in Film, Photography and Imaging. And I'm pretty ill at the moment, too weak to do much except bum around. So what better time to show you the work of the lady I based my dissertation on, who is - ironically - a sculptor! HA! Didn't see that one coming, did you, tutors?
Her name is Rachel Whiteread. She won the Turner Prize in 1993 for her public monument, House. But don't hold that against her. I won't bore you with her life's history and philosophy, but have a gander below at some of my works by her; usually Whiteread's casts (concrete, resin, plaster..) are pre-existing domestic objects that are themselves destroyed in the process, so that what remains are the spaces between things (books), under things (beds), inside things (closets)... you get the picture. Very powerful, in regards to collective and individual memory, and stuff. I like the way she thinks!
House, 1993. Her most famous piece. The concrete cast of an entire Victorian house interior in London, that was knocked down to make way for new housing.
Ghost, 1990. Just a room, this time, with visible soot marks from the room etched into the surface. I prefer this to House, much more intimate. And it, too, is housed within a gallery. Nifty!
Untitled (Bookshelves), 2000. I hope I got the right title for this one - I don't have my dissertation handy so I'm picking these from the internet and hoping they're right! My memory's rubbish.
I just love the fact that the dye from these books' spines has marked this plaster cast, it makes my heart beat faster! Sad, but true. Each book is given a unique stamp <3
Untitled (One Hundred Spaces), coloured resin, 1997
Whiteread has made visible the spaces beneath 100 chairs. The indentations on the sides are from the steel legs and struts, the curved tops are the undersides of the plastic seats. The way they're arranged, I can imagine a school classroom of kids perched on top.
Judenplatz Holocaust Memorial (aka The Nameless Library), Vienna, 2000
There's so much I could say about this, but I'll try to keep it short. A political nightmare, it took over 5 years to realise this monument. The cast is of bookshelves again, this time with the pages of the books facing outwards, on the surface, instead of the spines. Some people call it 'Nameless Library', as the books are purposefully left anonymous, as representations of the lives lost in the Holocaust. The nickname also refers to the old concept of Jews being 'The People of the Book' (meaning the Torah).
During planning, a maze of underground Nazi bunkers was found below the streets of Berlin, and a great deal of debate was had over what to do with them. Whiteread wanted to blow them up, to prevent them from existing in any form, however the council decided on filling them with concrete, which infuriated Whiteread. Of course, to her, making what are essentially casts of the space is equal to memorialising it!
As well as this controversy, when it came to excavating the foundations for the monument in its chosen location, Judenplatz, the remains of a medieval synagogue were found, that had been burned down by zealous Christians in 1420. After this discovery was made, Whiteread was adamant that the monument be built there, on top of the ruins (which were integrated into the design), as the perfect site. I totally agree.
Water Tower, New York, 1998
At the time, the largest resin cast of its kind. Commissioned by New York, this cast of the inside of a water tower sat on top of a high-rise for a year. I love its transparency, like water, that filters the light - every photo of it is different, because of the light.
Place (Village), 2008(?)
Whiteread collects dollhouses! Who'd have thought? She has alot now, and put them to good use in a show.
Okay, this post turned out waaaay longer / wankier than when I set out! Hope you enjoyed even a bit of it :)