Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Bite 128: Marc Quinn - Self, 2006


Self, 2006, blood (artist's), liquid silicone, stainless steel, glass, perspex and refrigeration equipment, 205 x 65 x 65 cm, National Portrait Gallery, London

The hum of a refrigerator unit below a cold glass case. Within: a red decapitated head, eyes closed, as if in meditation.

Every five years, beginning in 1991, Marc Quinn creates a new sculpture - of his own head, out of his own blood, taken over a 5 month period. Formed from liquid - the liquid of life and the Eucharist - it only remains a sculpture through freezing.  A death mask of blood.

Quinn refers to it as a "frozen moment on life-support," maintaining the tension of an object wanting to destroy itself, reminding us of the fragility of the human state. Being a life-cast it operates like a three-dimensional photograph, brutal in its honesty while withholding easy meaning. As with all photographs, like a death mask, it heralds the subjects - and our own - mortality.