GALLERY: Garbage Disposal Unit

by Lydia Swinney

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Through working on this project, I wanted to develop a series of work that explored structures of power and production in contemporary society. By using the image of the torso in a suit as the focal point in each piece, I investigated to what extent I could manipulate, fracture and reassemble ideas of an authoritative figure.

Inspired by the writings of The Situationist International, I produced this body of work in response to their critique on consumer culture as a result of advanced capitalism. Gilles Ivain, a member of the movement during the 1950s, critiques a society enthralled by the power dynamics of production and consumption in the book "Formulary for a New Urbanism" (1953), he goes on to say:

“Everyone is hypnotised by work and by comfort: by the garbage disposal unit, by the lift, by the bathroom, by the washing machine. This state of affairs born of a rebellion against the harshness of nature, has far overshot its goal - the liberation of man from from material cares - and become a life-destroying obsession. Young people everywhere have been allowed to choose between love and a garbage disposal unit. Everywhere they have chosen the garbage disposal unit.”

In terms of the colour and composition, I wanted to develop a relationship between each collage to portray ideas of the symbolic nature of re-produced imagery we see in the every-day media against both natural and artificial environments.

Working with these pieces on a smaller scale has allowed me to focus in on creating intricate layers and textures. Firstly, I have created backgrounds using found imagery such as graphic patterns, impressions of nature and stylised text from magazine articles, I have then put these through the printer to print the figure in the suit over the top. Lastly, I have applied marker pen and acrylic paint using expressive brush strokes and abstract patterns to obscure and rework detail.

My intent has been to develop a series of collages that require a longer period of time to be spent considering the subject matter of this project, inviting the viewer to slow down to dissect and form meaning.

Lydia Swinney is a Sheffield-based visual artist exploring westernised structures of power, production and consumption and how this affects the individual.

The Radical Art Review is a non-profit cooperative platform fuelled purely by people power for those who think art holds the potential for social transformation. We publish the thoughts, philosophies, and stories of all who dare to dissent. We seek to inform, to empower, and to dream collectively of a better tomorrow.

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