Dear Cleo 17 06 26

Dearest Cleo

I hope you are well it was good to catch up at the weekend and I hope you are enjoying the book I got you, I hope you will let me read it when you have finished it. Me? I have just fished reading the book I was reading on Cornelia Parker so I will try to tell you a bit about her.

Cornelia Parker

I am charged with giving my opinion on a drawing entitled Poison and Antidote drawing (2010).

Figure 1 (17 06 36 01) Poison and antidote drawing (2010) Cornelia Parker

Figure 2 (17 06 36 02) Poison and antidote drawing (2010) Cornelia Parker

These are the two drawings that are easily available on the internet both look like lungs, I suspect there are others with exactly the same title. These two are reminiscent of lungs. Cornelia seems to have a fixation for breathing with her squashed musical instruments in Breathless and the loss of breath would accompany rattlesnake venom poisoning.

Cornelia has been making Poison and Antidote drawings since at least 1996 and maybe still does. I sense she may only return to the series when she is in need of a few new pieces for her latest exhibition for surely the original joke must be wearing thin by now, unless she has other reasons to return to what has proved to be fertile ground

I can understand the basic concept relies on opposites of the black and the white, texture and smoothness, a sort of yin and yang, good and evil relationship, and even the allusion to danger and poison pen letters introduces by the use of ink in her process, these facts are almost a given.

Parker is prone to repetition but with subtle variations in the theme as can be seen in the various reincarnations of Thirty Pieces of Silver as Thirty Pieces of Silver Exhaled, Thirty Pieces of Slver (with reflection),Alter egos Still life with Reflections and Rorschach. Similarly Cold Dark Matter, Mass (Colder Darker Matter) and Anti Mass all of which are destroyed buildings The flattened musical instruments that have made at least two appearances as Breathless and Perpetual Cannon, It goes as far back as her early works with lead models of miniature cities but with each new reincarnation comes a new Slant on the original context, and a new title to explain the reincarnation. The Poison and Antidote drawings have never changed their title except once, when the two became one.

The two drawings in the British Museum are an early incarnation and the poison and the antidote are on two separate distinct drawings, only the black poison drawing is a Rorschach blot, the antidote drawing is an uncontrolled abstract piece, they are noted as a pair and said to represent Hitler and Freud. As a further difference the back venom of death is combined with silky smooth ink whereas the white antidote is combined with correction fluid to give it texture.

Later the Poison and Antidote are combined in the same Rorschach blot, maybe she saw the video on YouTube about Hitler being kind to his Alsatians or read a damming text about Freud and made the connection that good and evil are not nearly as far apart as we would like to imagine.

By 2010 it would appear that the poisoned ink went on first and the antidote correcting fluid was administered to return the paper to its pristine state, just as would happen in the real life snake bite situation. What was she trying to do, who knows but Parker herself, but I would wager her thoughts being far away from Hitler, Freud and Alsatians. I just had a horrible thought that it could be rude to call a German Sheppard an Alsatian.

With regard to the fact that Cornelia uses bits of her subject in her works, well yes and no, when did you last call your shed Cold Dark Matter or your church Mass or Anti Mass. You only know that it is a shed or a church because Cornelia tells you it is. They could just as well have been called A pleasant Arrangement of Objects and Light l, ll and lll and you would be none the wiser. Knowing the process increases the interest of the interested viewer and also gives rise to the “my five year old brigade”, do you think they would put your church in a gallery if your five year old set fire to it? Cornelia is more interested in art as a process than art as an object, art as an object shaped by time or circumstance.

I have stood in front of and all around of the David, the Angel of the North, a cast of Degas’ Fourteen year old dancer, the Venus of the Rags and countless Moore’s and Hepworth’s, they all had a big physical presence that have never adequately transferred to two dimensions. Sculpture has a wow factor that two dimensional art always fails to capture purely, I think, due to the lack of the third dimension and that the light is always so perfect whatever the viewpoint. However, when I saw the Birth of Venus at the Uffizi they had a small bas relief of the painting so that blind people could understand the painting, whilst I can appreciate the sentiment, I could not be asked to judge between the two, at least not while I was in the same room.

Well Cleo you now know a little bit about Cornelia Parker, I will bring the book with me at the weekend and show you the pictures in it.

All my love

Mickos x



Blazwick I. (2013) Cornelia Parker London: Thames and Hudson.|34484,|assetId=554866001&objectId=691359&partId=1