Gravity works on a lot of levels. It's eye-catching, it’s playful. It interrogates art and history again, it brings a new kind of materiality to a very old, traditional subject matter. It also takes us outside the white box gallery, as you said. Talk us through the inspiration and the creation process.
Well, I'm a conceptual artist, so my ideas dictate the medium that the work is finalised in. When I made the neon show in 2018, that came from experiencing Hong Kong for the first time and I became adamant about using this dying art. It speaks to this shift from analogue to digital. So this idea comes from synthesising different ideas, having made other objects that function in one way and then wanting to do something different. I’d done a Nefertiti disco ball previously, and that asked the question, what’s next?
So I went for King Tut, wanting to see something light-hearted but also with a serious context, and with the experience of seeing it from far away and then being drawn into it by the way it looks. And once you make your way down to the lower level, you’re engaging with the texts and the materials inside. One is a portrait from Black and Gold, which informs the work. There are books sourced from my studio, incense oils and other things that have touched different parts of the world. I think it speaks to this idea of King Tut and how we identify with these symbols and historical legacies, how they’re being misconstrued and misunderstood.
So for me, it’s about recontextualising them in a more modern context, bringing in a materiality to this ancient figure. That was important: allowing a new generation to deal with history in a more exciting and engaging way, as opposed to being didactic and very narrow about it. There are so many books that exist on the subject of King Tut, on Egyptology, on civilisations, but rarely do we see them in their true context, which is that these things originated in Africa, and Egypt is in Africa, not the Hollywood version that we see. These things are very important to me.