I’ve already told you a bit about the music and films that I like, so you probably already think I’m a plodding pedestrian. Well firstly, fuck you, but secondly, here’s some more fuel for your fire: My favourite artist is Duane Hanson.
Hanson was from Florida, a former modelmaker who reinvented himself as a sculptor in the late sixties. He made life-size, lifelike replicas of ordinary people doing ordinary things; a student clutching a book leaning against a wall, a cleaner having a rest, sitting by her mop and bucket. Every hair, pore, spot and freckle reproduced, red eyes, stubble and slumped postures. They were never displayed in glass cases or even on plinths, simply placed in the gallery as if they were just passing through. Visitors didn’t always spot the exhibits at first; some, especially the security guard and Hanson’s most famous piece, the camera-wielding tourist couple, must have been hard to distinguish from the actual punters and employees, only their immobility giving them away.
Of course, the fact that I have a favourite artist probably makes me an irredeemable ponce. Can’t win.
So, you may ask, what separates Mr. Hanson’s work from Madame Tussaud’s ? In technical terms there’s not really any difference. But in...what ? artistic ? social ? terms, they’re practically opposites. However minimal your interest in music or football, you know what Michael Jackson and David Beckham look like. All Tussaud’s offers is further (unnecessary) celebration of celebrities; more representations of people whose images are already unavoidable.
What Hanson’s pieces show is immense effort and skill focused on people whose mundane nature renders them almost invisible. In the wide wide world of art and the almost infinite possibility it offers, his work may seem perversely inward-looking, but it gives you an opportunity to peer in minute detail at something you may have considered beneath your notice, and see that really, everyone’s remarkable.
Enough dissertation; I don’t want to come over all Patrick Bateman.
There’s a fat bloke coming down the road, carrying a couple of shopping bags. Crappy-looking tapered jeans, grey t-shirt, white trainers. I stare at him unobserved from the fourth floor; he’s not what you’d call elegant, but...one foot, then the other, no stick, not stumbling, not staggering, just walking. The bags float smoothly above the pavement, bobbing and swaying slightly. Left, right, left...how does he do that ?