Corp’rate Day

selected writing by Laurence Figgis

Objet d’Art

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Steven Grainger, ‘Displacement Activities’, 2016, exhibition installation view (various media and dimensions)

 

I come to myself
in a ditch,
glass raining down
through a hole in the lid
of the see-through box
they put me in
years ago. Read more →

Compendium (for ‘ANYKENT’)

Laurence Figgis, 'Bust and Boo,' 2015, mixed media, 149 x 78 x 64 cm

Laurence Figgis, ‘Bust and Boo,’ 2015, mixed media, 149 x 78 x 64 cm

‘Although the sphinx has leapt up on Oedipus and dug her lioness claws into his bare flesh, her face looks no more menacing than the young Queen Victoria’s as seen in profile on a coin of the realm. There is no sense that she is threatening his very life instead of one of his sartorial whims. As Degas said, “He would have us believe the gods wore watch-chains”.  The background is made up of a “praline landscape” and a “rock candy mountain”.’ (White, 2000: 141)

Edmund White, The Flâneur

‘Anachronism is, on the contrary, a real and living thing, a thing having flesh and bones.  It would be enough to surprise us in a moment of sentimental distraction in order to leave in our flesh and our memories a mark of the real bites of poetry, and in order to rip out from us, with the slashing claw of anxiety, one of the most nutritious pieces of our intellectual anatomy.’ (Dalí, 1998: 253-4)

Salvador Dalí, ‘The Latest Modes of Intellectual Stimulation for the Summer of 1934’ Read more →

About ‘The Great Macguffin’

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Laurence Figgis, The Great Macguffin (detail), 2005-12, ink, crayon, watercolour on paper, 160 x 350 cm

I first stumbled on the (great) MacGuffin in 2005, when I was searching for a title for a piece of work that was then in production, a large scale ink and watercolour drawing that had occupied my attention for some months. I was still in the throes of making this work when I read Alfred Hitchcock’s account of the term in his seminal interview with François Truffaut. And I knew straight away that I had found not only the title for the work but also the name for its protagonist, the imaginary character (part human, part animal, part machine) with whose fortunes the drawing is principally concerned. The word itself struck me with its amusing lyric – or rather non-lyric -quality; I liked the heavy, cumbersome, down-to-earth sound. But the explanation behind the word was just as captivating.

‘MacGuffin’ is Hitchcock’s term for a pretext or plot device that in its typical and most intellectually satisfying form must always be radically under-explained within the diegetic narrative.  In many cases it would not hold up to rational scrutiny if the audience subjected it to any attention.  Thus in Hitchcock’s film Notorious (1946) we are led to assume  that particles of uranium (viable for atomic capability) can be stored in wine bottles in the form of a crystalline black dust, hidden in the chief antagonist’s cellar. Read more →

American Gothic

Chaos, Anachronism and Modernity in Eyvind Earle’s Sleeping Beauty 

The philosopher of anachronism, Jeremy Tambling, has argued that what is ‘postponed’ appears as anachronistic.  Drawing a metaphor from the world of modern travel, he writes that jet-lag (décalage horaire or ‘time-gap’ in French) ‘places one time (that of the body) inside another [time], literally postpones it’ (Tambling, 2010: 16).  The Beauty in Charles Perrault’s famous story for children, published in 1697 – the first of its kind to be called La Belle au Bois Dormant (‘The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood’), is herself an anachronism, a body ‘postponed’ – a figure from the ancient past recalled to life. And the Prince, who helps her to rise, is struck with embarrassment.  For, though she is fully dressed (and quite magnificently), she is dressed just like his great-grandmother – in the fashion of a century before – and wears a ‘point-band’ peeping over her collar (Perrault, 1992: 89).    Read more →

On the Emotional Appeal of the Inorganic

In the autumn of 1927, Salvador Dalí wrote to his friend Frederico Lorca denouncing the much-admired contemporary Spanish poet, Juan Jiménez. The latter, according to Dalí, is a ‘putrid marasmus’ who ‘has never ever seen anything, only receives mangy emotions from things’ (qtd. Ades, 1994: 139).  Dalí was especially outraged by Jiménez’s famous story Platero y Yo (1914), an account of the poet’s beloved companion Platero, a donkey, and their bland sojourns through pastoral scenes.  As Dawn Ades has speculated, Dalí’s violent dislike of this gentle, sentimental story may have contributed to the appearance of the rotting donkey as a visual image in such paintings as Honey Is Sweeter than Blood and as a verbal parody in written communication between Dalí and Lorca. In one such letter dated early December 1927, Dalí signs himself… ‘your ROTTING DONKEY’ and adds, ‘may…Platero…die’ (qtd. Ades, 1994: 139).

Read more →