Artist plans to use eight pints of his own blood to create counter-cultural logo

By Ben Miller | 25 April 2014

Painting Buy in Bleed Out in bags filled with his own blood, Maxwell Rushton is suffering for his art

A photo of a man standing in shadows putting two white gloves onto his hands
Maxwell Rushton has been plotting Buy in Bleed Out since 2011© Jay Hawley Photography
Using dozens of blood bags, letting in Manchester and aiming to create a “physical representation of modern sickness”, young artist Maxwell Rushton plans a brand-free logo using eight pints of his own blood.

In 2013, a year after graduating from Leeds College of Art, Rushton went to a Donor Centre in the West End of London to ascertain the medical feasibility of his counter-cultural project, Buy in Bleed Out.

A black and white photo of a bag full of blood
Rushton aims to turn abstract conformist marks into a logo© Maxwell Rushton
“This was part of the research for the piece,” he says. “The first bag of blood that I filled specifically for the piece was on the 1st of July 2013.

“The piece has been very testing from the start – the concepts behind the piece took years to develop and it took almost a year to find someone to assist with the blood lettings.

“I have to travel across the country to Manchester to blood let in conditions that are extremely worrying to my friends and family.

“This has been a kind of durational piece that started four years ago and has just less than two years left ‘til its completion.”

Filling bags at three-month intervals, Rushton is aiming for 13 in total.

“Through this piece I propose to confront people with the question of whether we are the victims, the powerless puppets of commodification, or are we truly in control?,” he says, confronting the “quasi-transcendental pedestal” he sees given to products and brands.

“It does this by using blood as the visual tool of extreme worship, as it has been for millennia.

“We have given our bodies, ourselves, our money and our individuality up to conglomerates, acting voluntarily as human vehicles for their advertising, thus extending their reach in a self-perpetuating cycle.

“I believe our passion for products, money and logos has been imposed upon us through the marketing of unattainable lifestyle ideas which brands have created to sell their products.

“If I can change the way in which we perceive commercial industry then I believe that this piece will have mattered.

“With one hand I want to show that I also have a lust for logos, brands and money, because I am not exempt from the culture I have grown up in.

“I, too, sacrifice real things to pursue a synthetic existence. But with the other hand I want to address that it matters profoundly that we understand who we really are, without the shaping of commercial corporations.”

The logo originally stemmed from the simple mark making, using only four strokes, which is the signature style of Maxwell, who has had six solo exhibitions and been part of eight group shows in London and Leeds. He plans to tour the idea to Europe this summer.


What do you think? Leave a comment below.

A photo of a man having blood taken out of his arm
© Maxwell Rushton
A black and white photo of a man having blood taken out of his arm
© Maxwell Rushton
A photo of a bag full of blood
© Maxwell Rushton
A photo of a bag of blood
© Maxwell Rushton
A photo of a bag of blood
© Maxwell Rushton
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Personalised direct marketing flashes across the screen of sites we research. I look forward to this exciting and challenging conceptual work of Max Rushton’s coming to fruition. The insightful use of his own blood is powerful and will induce us to reflect upon the existence of the contamination of marketing. The gentle spray of advertising filters its way into our senses using any, and every medium it can – and we barely notice what is happening – we simply buy in. Why?
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