Alex Seton’s Pygmalion featuring Fameg
According to Greek mythology, the sculptor Pygmalion carved a statue out of ivory that was so beautiful and perfect he immediately fell in love with it. The story has influenced many artists over the centuries, including playwright George Bernard Shaw, and has given rise to the ‘Pygmalion effect’ – a kind of self-fulfilling prophesy whereby higher expectations of others lead to an increase in their performance. It is this phenomenon (and its inverse, known as the ‘Golem effect’), that inspired Alex Seton’s Pygmalion installation at Sullivan+Strumpf gallery in Singapore.
This Sydney based multidisciplinary artist is best known for his marble sculptures, however his work also extends to photography, video and installation. Recently, Seton’s work has become a vehicle for engaging with political issues – his solo exhibition “The Island’ at Newcastle Gallery last year, for example, questioned Australia’s role in the asylum seeker debate.
Seton’s work is held in collections including the National Gallery of Australia, the Australian War Memorial, the Danish Royal Art Collection in Copenhagen and HBO Collection in New York and his awards include a Grand Jury Prize the Fondation François Schneider‘ContemporaryTalents’ competition in 2015.
The works in Seton’s Pygmalion installation explore both the ‘Pygmalion effect’ and the ‘Golem effect’ and show how the world is often divided into these two phenomena. Each work is based around antique and modern bentwood chairs (including Fameg Classic Bentwood chairs) that are transformed through the addition of marble and digitally printed plastic objects.
In two of the works, titled ‘Bentwood Hybrids’, antique bentwood chairs that were previously unusable are altered with prostheses, such as replacement legs and seats. Another work represents the Pygmalion effect with a skull carved from bone-coloured Statuario marble placed on a chair, while the Golem effect is represented by a black 3D printed skull with a pendulum suspended above it.
In an exhibition essay, arts writer and curator Chloé Wolifsonnotes that the works “suggest the power and finality of perception, and the difficulty in shaking a negative opinion once it has been formed”.
Our opinion of the Pygmalion installation – and of all of Alex Seton’s work – is entirely positive. This inspiring Australian artist challenges us all to question the origins of our perceptions.
All images courtesy www.alexseton.com