Allan McCollum-Natural Copies

An artist that is equally interested and intrigued by the context and concepts that allude ‘bones’ and the past is the artist Allan McCollum.

McCollum during the 1990s began investigating concepts surrounding  ‘natural copy’ imitating dinosaur bones, a dog from Pompeii and dinosaur tracks found in the coal mines of central Utah, the centrality of natural copies lies with the imitation and repetition of the natural discrepancies themselves, the copying of the ancient and oldest of processes, that of fossilisation.

For both myself and i believe McCollum what is most intriguing is the concept of the perfect captured moment in time . am-lost-objects-01

Above pictured is  Allan McCollum’s ‘ lost objects 1991 – museum of art, Pittsburgh’ 

Here McCollum plays with the gallery context itself playing of on historical association of museum identity and obscuring how we would usually see a set of dinosaur bones portrayed and laid out. The added foundation of the museum creates the context and institutional framework through which the ‘fossils’ can install the community with a sense of historical and cultural identity, creating meta physical value.

knowing that the bones are not genuine artefacts do we as viewers then question the authenticity of the objects ? or do we simply celebrate and enjoy the phenomena of McCollum’s work, enjoy the meta physicality ?. personally i enjoy the phenomena of the installation itself. The sheer vastness and matter of the installation are striking whilst challenging at the same time regardless of knowing the bones are copies, ultimately if they were fossils wouldn’t they be copies themselves ? – due to the fact that they are not physical bone ?.

In terms of my work, McCollum has made me consider how i use the primitive to echo a value or channel my voice of experience, not just using bones because i would automatically associate them as ‘primitive’ but use the bones and its materiality to challenges the viewers perception of normal and material association, why do we hold meta physical value to these objects ?, and by this metaphysically how does the primitive retain an identity, and further how do i channel my ideas of identity crisis, experience and heritage through the primitive ? Why bones ?.

fossilisation, the oldest artistic process – primal identity

To start off the artistic year i decided to explore what i would automatically associate as primal identity, that off bones. Bones for me are incredibly interesting, they are what support us, an anatomical scaffolding. every bone in every human body and animal body is unique, individual. You could further question concepts that surround fossilisation – the uncovering of prehistoric bones. Fossilisation is the most natural and oldest form of process in time, from life to rock. As a young child I would visit  museums that held prehistoric bones,  these trips, are what i would associate with one of my first ‘raw experiences’ of art or primal experience.

12305535_10153077036606577_1232667460_n – Hunterian museum – Royal college of surgeons

Being put into a gallery or museum context the bones  become either aesthetic objects or items of cultural phenomena or both at the same time – the viewer takes what they will from the object, the bones themselves are portrayed as historical obscurities, they allude us because they are so familiar yet in the outer body and museum context incredibly unfamiliar. 

For me as previously asserted there is something primal and raw about bones especially in the gallery or museum context, bones are so relatable to us as humans but stripped from the body and taken out of context become interchangeable and malleable; they become form rather than simply anatomical.

Below is a set of bones i carved from plaster and clay, by doing this the bones take on similar but new concepts, the reason for this is the association of my own experiences mixed with the primitive, that of material association – with my early childhood and past, in this instance plaster. for me personally plaster has a modern rawness to it, it is a material  we use in our everyday building to interiors of the home, it is available to anyone, and i have been very aware of it from an early age due to my dad working within construction,  for me it is an unrefined material, it is natural yet in its very nature completely un-natural it is the new modern primitive, it is a material for the primitive modern man, a material that binds the and holds the inside of our homes much like the skeleton – bones.

I also Decided to use clay because it is a completely organic material , its the rawest malleable material from the ground, and in its malleability it retains a coarseness, for myself to work with clay is to work compulsively and then further refine that compulsion. 


Primal Experience and Identity

carrying on forward from my dissertation i have decided to base an investigation around primal experiences, developing and refining my thoughts. Primal experiences being experiences i have had from the early experiences of art or ‘raw art’, from watching my dad build and going on site to exploring the forest of dean, my primal experiences are that of my own subconscious and experiences of art at a young age – artistic influences that have alluded myself. Further using ‘primitive’ forms of art work such as cave man and early ice age to represent this impulsion, this is because early foundations of primitive art work such as cave man  hold no jurisdiction or ties to any culture because every culture can adopt and claim it as their own, being  undefined puts the primitive for me in a sense of identity crisis or lost identity, a longing towards a penultimate whole, a specific culture. As a being i can similarly sympathise, being half german/ Hungarian living in Gloucestershire and having roots spreading across eastern europe i find it difficult to adopt one certain culture as my own as so many iconic cultures allude my heritage, this is why i have decided to convey my experiences through primitive art work using it as a vestige for my experiences.

I am Representing what i perceive as my primal experiences through a combination of my heritage, personal past and the primitive, exploring material related to concept to define and explore some form of penultimate whole or identity in modern society, looking back at the past to understand the present and further myself as an individual.