Eddie Clemens makes work by observing mundane aspects of suburban and rural life and turning them into commodities and packaged souvenirs. Instead of the usual tackiness and kitsch we associate with souvenir culture, Eddie creates manufactured, large scale works that are slick and modern objects yet have a fundamental playful element. In doing so he invents a new kind of ‘kiwiana’ through creating new icons of a New Zealand culture.
For this exhibition, Silage Globes Eddie represents an iconic image of rural New Zealand farming – the silage heap covered and weighed down by used tyres, something most of us have glimpsed though the windscreen or rear view mirror of our cars whilst speeding along the state highway. The work denatures the silage heap by repositioning it within a gallery environment, and by abstracting the farm based silage process into the motif of a snow globe, an object now designed explicitly for play.
At first glance the presentation of this exhibition, which is shop-like, cool and highly ordered, gives an impression of the impersonal and the mass-produced. This initial impression however contradicts the stringent design process and hands-on approach behind the works. From one specialist to the next, Eddie employs the assistance of car manufacturers, mechanical operators, and package designers, and works intimately with them to create his own limited edition multiples. Eddie mimics the production-line process in a detailed and creative way to produce works of art that show no evidence of human manual labour or the artists touch.
Eddie invites us to explore this exhibition as a humorous take on a rural icon, playful, simplistic, and slick, but dig deeper beneath the manufactured surfaces and colliding rubber tyres you find interesting comment on recycling decomposition and co-modification.
Eddie Clemens is an Auckland based artist who studied a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Elam in Canterbury and recently completed his Masters at Elam School of Fine Arts. In 2005 he was a finalist in the Trust Waikato National Contemporary Art Award and in the James Wallace Arts Trust Award. Clemens recently received funding from Creative New Zealand towards new work and is represented by Sue Crockford Gallery in Auckland.