Tim Noble and Sue Webster

20 Modern Classics
22.09.2009 – 09.10.2009, Triumph Gallery

For their first solo exhibition in Russia, British artists Tim Noble and Sue Webster have produced a stunning collection of work that best reflects their ongoing fascination with silhouettes and self-analysis.

The central piece is the extraordinary work, Scarlett - a kinetic installation consisting of a worktable (upon which the artists have been working for the last decade) covered with numerous bizarre mechanical toys all of which incessantly move, chatter and jerk. In this powerful installation, innocent children’s playthings from Action Men to Barbie dolls have been transformed into objects of apparent perversion. Simultaneously humorous and disturbing these specially modified toys display a cornucopia of psychological and childhood references – like a laboratory to test out theories about the subconscious pressures and childhood instincts emanating from the unconscious mind.

Another work in the exhibition, Bloody Haemorrhaging Narcissus, is a more characteristic Noble and Webster piece, comprising a sculpture on a tall plinth whose cast shadow creates a silhouette of the artists’ facial profiles. This shocking work is made from a plethora of bright red silicone rubber casts of Webster’s fingers and Noble’s penis in various states of arousal. A variation on this work, The Wedding Cake (2008) is a plaster cast of the same plethora of appendages encased within a sculptural reference from another work, (Untitled) Spinning Heads.

A series of bronze sculptures also in the show are entitled (Untitled) Spinning Heads and (Untitled) Spinning Heads in Reverse. (Untitled) Spinning Heads (2005) is based on Bertelli’s Continuing Profile of Mussolini (1933) – a sculpted profile of Mussolini rotated 360 degrees – the result being more machine-like than human. (Untitled) Spinning Heads in Reverse depicts the artist’s profiles and refers to the famous ‘Rubin Vase’ technique – an optical illusion presenting the viewer with a mental choice of two interpretations, each of which is valid.  You see two vases or you see two profiles of the artists’ faces.

Two further shadow works will also be included in the show, the first a remake of Miss Understood and Mr Meanor, the original of which was destroyed in the infamous fire at Momart’s storage unit in 2004. Two sticks loaded with trash and personal items stand side-by-side and, when light is directed towards the trash, a shadow is cast on the wall behind revealing a perfect silhouette of the artists’ heads in profile and conjuring up the memory of severed heads placed on spikes outside the Tower of London in the Middle Ages. The other shadow work, Rat and Trap, uses the same process to cast a shadow of a single rat precariously walking towards a rat trap.

As a final addition to the show Noble and Webster have chosen to premier the short film Ornament (In Crisis) (1995) in which Tim Noble appears submerged underwater in a fish tank. This work was the first ever collaboration by Noble and Webster and it was also almost their last.

Tim Noble and Sue Webster live and work in London and have been exhibiting their work internationally since the early 1990s. They recently installed their first permanent outdoor public sculpture at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver and were included in the exhibition Un Certain Etat du Monde? A Selection of Works from the Francois Pinault Collection at the Garage Center for Contemporary Culture in Moscow.

20 Modern Classics is organized in conjunction with RS&A Ltd in London. An 80-page catalogue will accompany the exhibition.