9112011: A Decennalia

In late August, and running into September this year, I was part of a group exhibition titled 9112011: A Decennalia. [For those who didn't study Latin (myself included), 'decennalia' means 'tenth anniversary'.] The theme behind this show, curated by Peter Thomas, was the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the world trade centre, and their lasting - or since forgotten - implications. The artists included were myself, Peter, Mia Salsjo and Linda Tegg


My work was titled Deep Impact, and was comprised of three parts: a spinning asteroid, a mechanical model of the solar system - also known as an orrery - and a black wall-mounted panel. The sun was represented by a yellow globe suspended from the ceiling. All the planets and the asteroid were made from paper-mâché. I used a disco-ball motor for the asteroid, and the orrery utilised a microwave motor.

For this work I wanted to create something that played upon Hollywood dramatisations of catastrophe, and their various manifestations. I had heard that after the 9/11 attacks the pentagon summoned a group of Hollywood directors to present various imagined terrorism scenarios to help them prepare for any possible event. I found this situation incredibly bizarre - fiction preceding, if not forecasting, fact. This gesture highlighted the filmic nature of the attacks, and their subsequent televised repetition. As Slavoj Žižek stated in Welcome to the Desert of the Real, "the September 11 attacks were the stuff of popular fantasy long before they actually took place".

The title was directly taken from a 1998 sci-fi catastrophe film, in which a large meteorite is heading for the earth and human kind is liable to be wiped out. essentially that is what is being presented in this sculpture, except the asteroid, although rotating on an axis, is inert; endlessly spinning in vaguely-threatening proximity. Our sense of fear at the risk of disaster, be it religious fundamentalism or interplanetary collision, is shaped by our preparedness to believe the fantasy:  terror reduced to a spinning paper-mâché ball.

[this is a picture of me as an asteroid.]

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