The mind has the wonderful ability to unite disparate beings together, based almost entirely on their proximity to one another.
We are sure of one thing that happens to us between birth and death: decay. This is the central theme of Andrew Nigon’s work. A painful, yet colorful and playful reminder of our struggle to cope with an uncomfortable reality. As nature quickly recycles all things and, in spite of our belief of being at the top of the pyramid, we have to bow and go as everything else.
Were you always attracted to sculpture or you found your way through other mediums?
Always sculpture. There is honesty in an object that exists in real space, which frames my practice.
Where do you find the materials for your sculptures? What’s the percentage of recovered materials?
This question seems to imply that I use found objects, which I rarely do. I’m more interested in molding objects to cast in different materials, essentially, ready-made fossils. The simple act of supplanting the original material with a petroleum product (plastic, foam, rubber) can isolate and amplify the mystical power that item contains. I do, however, recycle parts from old sculptures into new ones creating awkward relationships between parts of a whole. Some appendages have existed in two or three completely separate works and for me, they begin to exist as performers in a troupe, playing a different role every time they go out on stage. There is an authentic history in those materials now, as if they are living a life, truly.
I cannot help seeing a fairy tale ‘gone wrong’ quality to your sculptures. Is this connected to memories of your childhood somehow?
No, my childhood was great. I do use a bright color pallet in order to subvert the horror of seeing a body in decay, creating an interesting dualism that could be analogous to fairy tales ‘gone wrong’. My work has been described as whimsical in the past, but I really don’t see it, and I have never intended to create fantasy worlds.
There is a clear process of composing from decomposed materials. Similar to garbage-art but more like the evolution of it. Tell us a bit about your choice of materials.
I am attracted to materials that are unique to our time. Plastics, resins and urethane foam typically. These materials are unique in there ability to mimic, while still appearing foreign. It’s interesting you would say that the work is composed “from decomposed materials” since almost every part is fabricated by me. My process involves a degree of compartmentalizing the figure into various components that are seen as individual beings defined by a unique color, shape, material or texture. I am strongly apposed to softening the transition from one piece to the other. The mind has the wonderful ability to unite disparate beings together, based almost entirely on their proximity to one another. My work is meant to create a tension, where instinct aggressively trumps logic in order to see unity in a seemingly dysfunctional whole. Not only do I use these materials to cast the components that make up the work, but I also use them as an adhesive to connect the parts. Often, these glues will ooze out of the joint onto the surface, drawing attention to the process, and to remove or hide that process would be disrespectful to the diverse abilities of the material.
Ours is, unfortunately, a decomposing planet. Is there a message of things to come in your art? Is this what we’re going to (metaphorically) look like?
Yes. Well, this is what the world is going to look like. We are in the middle of an exciting paradigm shift, away from pure American idealism to a much more pragmatic idealism. I do not see the Millennial generation as cynical, even though they have every right to be. Communism failed. The Hippie movement failed. Reaganomics failed. The Internet has even failed in living up to its revolutionary promise of the late nineties. Are we really still fighting for civil rights?! The Cold War threat was a hypothetical one and was avoided by holding our breath, but today we are experiencing a constellation of real tangible problems: economic collapse, a global migrant crisis and, of course, climate change. I think we are now learning that idealism alone will not get us through, and so we are starting (finally) to lower our expectations. Down size. The millennials seem hungry to take the wheel, and that makes me optimistic. I see the future as a chaotic and, at times, tragic maximalism that will be navigated with a focused and reasonably optimistic approach. Did I mention Pope Francis?
What’s your opinion on technology ‘improving’ our lives?
I believe we are evolving horizontally. As the speed of technological change increases, the clearer it is to see what we are losing: real news, penmanship, books, etc. It doesn’t matter how you access it, porn is pretty much the same as it’s always been.
There is a ‘totemic’ quality in some of your works, almost religious; would you like to elaborate on that?
One surprising effect of making plastic casts of people’¬s bodies is how much of their soul is locked in the material. Casting is different than traditional sculpting in that, instead of creating an object in the likeness of someone, it actually creates three-dimensional clones. This is similar to the distance between portrait painting and photography.
I have recently started believing in magic, which has affected my deeper understanding of the efficacy of religious ritual.
On Instagram: @nigonigon