- Tom- Tom
This project started with the need to have something on the wall of the furnished London apartment Ben and I have taken for a few months. It’s a gorgeous place and our host invited us to make it our own. So we made something for over the sofa that was ours.
We’re a few minutes down the Thames from Tate Britain – a favorite museum of mine where DERCE sits aside the museum entrance. I’d photographed it years ago when I was first in London and found myself charmed by it again on this trip. I’ve been intending to create new works based on sculpture beyond a simple photo record. DERCE inspired me see what I could make of Sir Charles Lewes-Witteronge’s sculpture. This is what I came up with as a start – 18 prints of details of the work in a grid.
The sculpture tells the story of two bastard sons of Zeus taking revenge on the evil goddess Derce for her attack on their mother. The brothers tied Derce to a raging bull in a riot of mayhem and glorious straining muscle. Sir Charles made the original in marble. The Tate sculpture is a bronze, given to the Tate by Sir Charles’ widow at the back end of the 19th Century.
Often in art history, artists interpret and reinvent works by earlier artists. My photomontage, which recalls bas relief, is the first in a series of works made as an homage to Sir Charles’ masterpiece. The advice of Jasper Johns on the subject of making art is – “Take an object – change it – change it again.” To this end, Ben suggested that the photos could be made more “mine” if I changed them further by altering them, specifically to heighten their erotic charge. In the past, I have often alluded to sculpture in the way I make my photos. Ben suggested that I go further and merge the sculpture with images of real bodies.
As we mulled the idea over, it occurred to us that one of the individual detail shots was very close to the pose of a subject we’d shot a day or two before.
Reversing the image, we found a tight fit between the sculpture and our friend. When we merged the images – the figure gained what Sir Charles had politely omitted – his dick. Sometimes, when an idea is right – the path to it opens in the most amazing ways. This is one of those cases.
This is but the beginning of a series of works based on DERCE. Elaborations will follow / the experiments are fun / we will report on where this all goes in the future.