‘Running Costs in Heavy Industry’ 1996

As if popping out of a ‘manhole’ on the rigging platform of a huge industrial site, I present myself for a self portrait… hand on chin and hardhat on, confronting the viewer with the title ‘Running Costs in Heavy Industry’ In the centre of this work a nude model runs smiling from the change rooms or straight from the Penthouse magazine to…one can assume her next assignment somewhere in this ‘heavy industry’.

The model emerges in clean white running shoes sporting towelling sweat bands, her flesh adding warm vitality and life in contrast to the grime and cold rusted steel. White emissions from the cooling towers rise above the gaze of the artist who confronts the viewer…perhaps this serves as a thought bubble for the whole scene. How is one to read the quizzical expression on the face of the artist? The shrug of the shoulders suggest…”I don’t know…I’m trying to figure it out” or “well you’re the critic, it’s up to you”.

More specifically the title of this work may be seen as an expression of the confusion that surrounds the critiquing of explicit visual imagery, particularly in this genre of realism. In his discussion on the social responsibility of the art critic Edward Said writes: ‘ the critic]…is also responsible to a degree for articulating those voices dominated, displaced, or silenced by the textuality of texts… The critic’s attitude should be frankly inventive…which means finding and exposing things that other wise may be hidden beneath piety, heedlessness, or routine.’ (Said 1983, 53)