Stop Trying to Sell Me a Fantasy That I Don’t Want to Buy | Suzannah Pettigrew
London-based artist Suzannah Pettigrew explores “the duality of sexual desire: participating in extreme attachment while forcing detachment from reality”, in her solo exhibition, Stop Trying to Sell Me a Fantasy That I Don’t Want to Buy through sculpture and video work.
The topic of desire is something we all know well, but are perhaps unaware of until manifested and viewed in retrospect. It’s something to be explored, and Pettigrew does this through video, sculpture and a site-specific installation in the Sang Bleu Contemporary Art and Project Space (Dalston Lane, London).
We speak to Pettigrew about her first solo show at Sang Bleu, and more about the concept of the body of work which we all know well.
Please tell us about your upcoming solo show.
The exhibition is titled Stop Trying to Sell Me a Fantasy That I Don’t Want to Buy and will be showing at Sang Bleu Contemporary Art and Project Space. The works explore the ability to exchange autonomous utopias and the social impact that this has, particularly on intimate relationships. Through the exchange of hyper-realities we sell ourselves – and each other – a fantasy of what we want, and how we want it. I will be presenting video and sculpture works set within a site-specific installation.
What were the motivations behind the works, and how long was your process for executing them?
I wrote the show text in the early part of this year and kept revisiting it. It was out of frustration from feeling like I had been constantly arriving at the same conclusion, and it felt like it was time to escape the maze. I began to build on a body of work that related to the writing shortly after.
Can you describe this body of work in a few words?
An abstraction of an abstraction.
What tools did you work with?
I worked with video predominately, creating video montages using the same footage over and over. A sculpture will also be exhibited. The works will be presented in a site-specific installation, I’m communicating visually the power struggle between reality and fantasy and my visual perception of how they exist with each other. In the exhibition the two forms interact but take on different roles.
How did you link up with Sang Bleu?
I know Maxime Buchi and Hope Plescia who curate the exhibitions and they invited me to show as part of their program.
Are you the first to exhibit in their Contemporary Art and Project Space?
I’m the third artist to exhibit at the space. Go to sangbleu.com to see upcoming and past exhibitions.
You also run The Depot, a creative space you founded. Please tell us more about this unique space.
The Depot is a gallery and studio space that I co-founded with my best friend from school Tilley Harris. We spent a year renovating the building and it’s been running for around two years now. The Depot has taken on many roles, Tilley and I both have studios there as well as a handful of other artists. I curated a programme at The Depot, which is currently on hold so I could give my practice some focus. We have film screenings there, events, photographic and video shoots and the occasional private party for our friends. The area is being re-developed early next year so we will lose the building soon. Tilley and her full time collaborator Alex Pielak have created a body of work called The Deserted Village that I will curate for their exhibition in late November. It documents the last community to inhabit the neighbouring building to our space, The Old Tram Depot in Clapton, through photography, archive material and audio recordings.
What other artists or creators, motivate you and your work?
For this exhibition Coral Reef by Mike Nelson has been a major influence as well as a series of paintings that my Grandfather made. My flatmate has motivated me hugely to focus on myself and my practice, her work ethic is very inspiring. I’m lucky to be surrounded by friends that are creative and killing it. I admire their focus and hard work, which motivates me to persevere. I freelance as a technician and work with a lot of other artists and I find being able to talk about my practice with them really motivating.
You are based in London, tell us about the city.
London is incredible. It has some of the most amazing galleries and almost all of my favourite people live here.
What is the feeling like in London right now?
London always feels exciting to me. Even when I think I’m over it and want to move away, I leave the city but always need to get back to feel alive again.
What is in your diary for the rest of 2014? What can we expect from you in 2015?
For the rest of the year I’ll be hanging artwork and spending more time in my studio. I’m developing an exhibition around a video I made Fifteen which I’ll be showing in 2015.
Sang Bleu London Contemporary Art and Project Space
29b Dalston Lane, E8 3DF London, United Kingdom
31st October - 2nd November 2014
Still from video: An Abstraction of the Anticipation of Intimacy (2014)
Stills from video: Fifteen (2014)