Yearning for the Ineffable: Feeling Practically Bacchanalian (Hand Job)

Yearning for the Ineffable/Feeling Practically Bacchanalian (Hand Job) (2018)

Digital Prints (x3 104x75cms).
Ancient Greek statue, clay, paint, hand, digital prints.


A hand of a Greek God (Zeus/Poseidon - unknown) in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens (the only image I took was of its hand) obsessively copied thousands of years later; one isolated gesture altered in medium, in time, in quality, a fragmentation of both personal and cultural memory, progressively repeated and warped. A double-entendre of ‘crudeness’.

I was commissioned to write a review of the Learning From Athens leg of Documenta 14 (published by MAP Magazine in 2017), and research into the problematic relationship between Greece and Germany [in short, the recent oppressive economical treatment of Greece by the European Union, led by Germany], against the backdrop of the historical, reified filtration of Ancient Greek culture into German culture, led to rumination on the colonisation and collective mis-remembering of culture and cultural memory. This eventually culminated in this series of images, beginning with the original hand, and progressing with my various duplicatory attempts.

The body is fragmented by the photograph, and the work is fragmented as a triptych spread across an exhibition space. What the hands are reaching for is unknown, but we lean with their imagined bodies and we impress our own yearnings into their palms; seductively engaging in a productive kind of frustration, a yearning for the ineffable itself reminiscent of remembering. Inquiring how the ‘spaces in-between’ might hold most significance; how such a gesture translated through time and iteration, and the possible conversation initiated by its reaching out to any other work that makes contact with it.

As the Spankomatic video pans across each hand, the fragmentary rhetorics of each work unite for an instant, over and over and over again. Suddenly, it might seem as though the hands reach out towards the bum that repeatedly creeps across their fingers. Then, they are ready and primed to let the Spankomatic machine take a break and spank the bum themselves. Cheeky. The potential poetics are momentarily shattered by corporeal crudeness.


(Exhibited in False Positives (part 2), Tron Theatre, Glasgow, 2018 - a group show, curated and featuring work by Allegra Salandini, Grace Higgins Brown, Rachel Woodside, and Rebecca Thomson).