Reflective of a contemporary condition in the internet age, Quinn sees this group of works as depicting “people wanting to culturally possess their biological bodies.” All the human subjects of these works have undergone plastic surgery to change their biological identity and physical shape - in some ways 'artists' using their own bodies as an artistic medium, shaping and sculpting their own flesh. Quinn's sculptures seem like mythological figures, whose identity has shifted from reality into fantasy, linking them with a history of transformation in classical mythology in stories such as The Metamorphoses by Ovid, where people become their own mythological creatures. The works highlight that while certain practices of body adornment and manipulation have always existed among society within a ritual context, such as tattooing and scarification, today people create their own context through the personal myth and ritual instead - "...the same impulses exist but there’s no ritual context, so everyone invents their own story. Again, like these tribes, everyone is inventing their own way of doing this and not being told how to do it by a religion or a culture."
Rendered in the pitted concrete of the street, the sculptures Zombie Boy (City) (2011) and The Beauty of Healing (2014) present the opposite of abstract flesh – two human bodies (respectively those of Rick Genest and Laurence Sessou) that have been modified and recreated to the point of becoming self-authored artworks. Under the moniker Zombie Boy, Genest’s full-body tattoos have made him an international celebrity. For Sessou, the realisation of a self-authored physicality took on the weight of a rite of passage, including a journey through considerable pain to become remade in a modified form.
The sculpture Buck and Allanah depicts a male figure who has undergone surgery to become female and vice versa, a binary work that Quinn sees as “two lights illuminating different sides of one object”. Deliberately the sculpture appears unfinished, Quinn describing the subjects as “works in progress” themselves. Buck and Allanah are people in physical transformation, and Quinn sees this sculpture as a frozen moment of this transformation.
To read more about the works in this collection click here.