In Allan McCollum’s “Plaster Surrogates” of the early 1980’s we have multiple objects that have had to split their meaning in to component parts, like a scattering of bread crumbs, always diluting their significance. No one of these objects can hold the total- and there are always more to come, reproducing like lemmings diving off the integrity cliff. The space that opens up between the crumbs, like the “vacuum” between stars in the galaxies is an absurdity – and, like the sudden understanding that all that empty space in outer space is full of particle mass, they start to make their own (non)sense. What could be more ridiculous than the Universe?
When I first saw McCollum’s Surrogates I grabbed at their ridiculous quality. If it’s a taste, it’s a sour-sweet one. They’re formal objects- in black tie at the Plaza, dead and opaque as individuals. They crack me up as a group; one guy in a monkey-suit tuxedo, not so funny, but a room full, hilarious!
We are familiar with objects like these, but here they’re hollow, like masks of paintings. Or realist sculptures OF paintings. But it’s the larger gesture that’s full and even generous. The ridiculous and absurd are at their best when produced with such untiring conviction. Their influence on my work is that I love them; I get them in McCollum’s context. They’re perfect manifestations of his project, but, as I often do, I put myself in the maker’s position, and I’m not satisfied. I want to keep going, painting on them, even if it dilutes their perfect concept. They’re kind of pure, and for me, in my work, I crave the dirty, the hybrid, the conflicted, and the irreconcilable. I love them, though I can’t be them.