Photography by Joe O'Brien
Selling of an Organism
Polythene bags, acrylic paint, polymer clay, aquatic plants, found material and water. 200 x 215cm.
This sculpture is influenced by the process of sale at Tung Choi Street North, Hong Kong (known as ‘Goldfish Street’), whereby fish are bagged and hung on metal grids, ready to be purchased. That an animal can so easily and quickly be yours - especially one associated with the intangibility of aquatic environments - is shocking; it reinstates the power of being human. This is the epitome of the materialistic practice of buying live animals as pets; these fish are fetishised for their patterns, grace and mystery as if they were jewellery. The water in the bags creates a clear divide between 'us' and 'them', turning each bag into a separate miniature habitat containing single, objectified organisms. The process also speaks in an ambiguous, aesthetic way; the quality of these inflatable, bulbous and transparent water containers and the effect they have on entities inside them has a mystifying sublimity to it. This work is a response to that sublimity, driven by the strong existential reaction that I have to the goldfish street-sale procedure.
I think it's important to draw attention to such examples of nature manipulated by capitalism - perhaps one day this will be all of nature we witness.