‘Simon Horsburgh: Forthcoming and Untitled’,
Un. Magazine, Vol. 2 No. 1, March 2008
Forthcoming and Untitled
11 August – 1 September 2007
In an artist’s statement Simon Horsburgh speaks of an interest in natural phenomena – but it’s not natural objects so much as naturalised objects that he is drawn to. A shopping trolley, a rubber thong, a plastic supermarket bag are items of such prosaicness that their reality is diminished by their ubiquitous familiarity. Yet through Horsburgh’s sleight of hand they are de-naturalised, and perversely, acquire a heightened realism. The found objects he displays are ordinary but no longer banal.
Through the application of a range of forces, the objects are inscribed and bear the trace of the actions performed on them. A windscreen is scratched, a trolley compressed and a disposable shopping bag delicately threaded with monofilament and staged as an object of attention. The residue of these actions is their index, and through these manoeuvres the objects are transformed.
Unlikely juxtapositions structure the work –a blood red latex balloon is trapped within the mangled metal frame of the shopping trolley, and wedged between the windscreen and the gallery wall is a yellow rubber thong. It’s a surrealist device but the result is less a shock to the unconscious than the frisson of the everyday animated in unexpected ways.
I’m reminded of Petra Blaisse’s photographs of billowing curtains that push through their window casing and balloon out beyond the building’s façade, confounding the relations of inside and outside, and contrasting their softly inflated form against an obdurate frame.
Here too, there’s a sense of things pushing through and things fleetingly ensnared. In Squash, a creamy mass of expanding foam seeps through the crevices and folds of crushed galvanised steel. The two materials – metallic and synthetic – interlock, their meshed contortions forming a sculptural grisaille.
The windscreen work, Dive, laced with cracks and scratches, inevitably brings to mind Duchamp’s The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even or more colloquially The Large Glass. Although the cracked glass of Duchamp’s work was the product of accident (it was broken in transit in 1926), both works ostensibly display their shattered glass surface as an index of their subjection to external forces. Duchamp sub-titled his iconic work Delay in Glass, implying that his inanimate object had the capacity to toy with time: to slow it or, like a photograph, arrest it.[i] Horsburgh’s sculptures share in this impetus to take on the photographic qualities of freezing time. This desire to make the object a vehicle for a snapshot effect is the ‘untitled heart’ of Horsburgh’s project.
The subtlest piece in the exhibition, Thaw, is a small area of the existing gallery window ground with oil like a clearing in a frosted windowpane. It’s the most easily missed work yet it’s the emblem for the suite – its icy surface suggestive of the surrounding ‘frozen’ moments. If the frosted opacity of the glass connotes the idea of seeing ‘through a glass darkly’, Horsbugh’s works redress our imperfections of vision. Through the interlacing of object and event, he returns to our sight the quotidian created anew.
Simon Horsburgh, Untitled Heart, 2007, steel supermarket trolley, latex balloon, silicone.
[i] For a discussion of the link between the photograph, the index and the readymade see Rosalind Krauss’s essay ‘Notes on the Index: Part 1’ in The Originality of the Avant-Garde and Other Modernist Myths, The MIT Press, 1986