Thursday, February 25, 2010

Collections_Artist Research

Tim Noble and Sue Webster

Noble and Webster have collected rubbish: people's discarded containers, junk food wrappers, metal cans of crushed coke cans and mummified animals, to produce works of art, which at first glance, seem as they are – heaps of trash. However, the use of a lamp to project the trash’s ‘reflection’ presents the viewer with the notion of rubbish as beauty: “...skilfully skirt the boundaries between beauty and the ‘shadier’ aspects of humanity, playing with our perceptions as well as our notions of taste. Many of their most notable pieces are made from piles of rubbish, with light projected against them to create a shadow image entirely different to that seen when looking directly at the deliberately disguised pile” (

They use a mixture of irony and parody to present a conflict of ideas that art should be an ‘all-over’ beautiful, and in Noble and Webster’s case, the outcome is 'beautiful', so is the idea. But the overall reality of the situation of their installations, is that they have made attractive, human waste – quite literally, as we see in their piece HE/SHE, 1998, which has trash skilfully arranged in the shadow form of a man standing and a woman squatting urinating. These are publically offending to the notion of what is ‘proper’ or ‘civilized’, however they tease the viewer, making them look closer at the technical beauty of the shadows.
Their titles are challenging, such as their piece Real Life is Rubbish (2002), where they’re presenting the viewer with the obvious – we are our own rubbish – but doing it in such a way, that the audience almost wants to accept it as beauty, whilst feeling disgust and disappointment at their own environmental apathy at the same time.

The trash, the space, the shadow outcome, create, for me, a sense of involvement. The titles and the objects used, such as the use of dead animals in Dark Stuff of 2008, force the viewer’s desire to be repulsed at their desire to take a ‘closer look’.

<1> Dirty White Trash (With Gulls), 1998
Downloaded from at 7:00 pm on 17/02/2010
<2> Real Life is Rubbish, 2002
Downloaded from at 7:00 pm on 17/02/2010

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