Pink Wafer Equivalent VIII  2003/2017

Installation view at Villa Arson

Floor-based installation of 12,168 pink wafer biscuits arranged to same dimensions as Carl Andre's 1966 work Equivalent VIII ("the Tate bricks"); 2.24 x 0.67 x 0.12 m.

Installation view at Villa Arson

The work was first shown at the exhibition The Joy of Kitsch, Oriel Myrddin Gallery, Carmarthen, Wales in 2003; and has also been shown at the exhibition Point Quartz: Flower of Kent at Villa Arson, Nice in 2017; and at the conference Minimalism: Location Aspect Moment at Winchester School of Art, organised by Paul Hegarty, Sarah Hayden and Ryan Bishop, in conjunction with the John Hansard Gallery in 2016.

Read BBC article Artist Swaps Bricks for Biscuits.

‘Dave’s tickled pink!’ announced the headline on the cover of the Carmarthenshire Journal. There was something inevitable about the way the local newspaper chose to focus on this one particular work in its coverage of a group exhibition at Oriel Myrddin Gallery in Wales entitled ‘The Joy of Kitsch.’ Carl Andre’s original had, of course, triggered something of a media storm back in the 1970s when the Tate purchased it. ‘What a load of rubbish!’ exclaimed the Daily Mirror’s indignant article, besides a series of photographs of the work – which was how, reproduced on the pages of some art history textbook or other, I first encountered it.

I had recently finished art college and scholarly exegeses on minimalism were still echoing around my head: it was about one’s own phenomenological presence as a spectator in the room; it was an intentionally uncompromising experience that denied conventional aesthetic pleasure, narrative interest, and symbolic content; it had since been (mis-)appropriated as a vacuous interior design concept. But for me, it also had a kind of compelling banality. I had been using biscuits a lot in my own work at the time, drawn to their resolute lack of seriousness; as a sculptural material they seemed a bit pathetic: the polar opposite of the austere minimalist brick. If minimalism sought to exclude everything that detracted from the facticity of the object in a space, then pink wafers were wholly inappropriate, filling the room with their sickly saccharine aroma, gaudily pink, initiating semi-ironic discussions of “what’s your favourite biscuit?” But still, they were sort of brick-shaped, and they stacked quite nicely...