Artist's Statement: Alex Hoda on sculpting with used chewing gum and banana skins

| 26 September 2013

Artist’s Statement: Alex Hoda on making marble sculptures from used chewing gum and bronze works from sculpted banana skins...

A black and white photo of a male artist sitting down
© Courtesy Alex Hoda / Edel Assanti
“My work has always been an investigation into how discarded objects can provide a valid starting point for a wider discussion and a critique of contemporary society’s ‘throwaway’ culture.

For me, chewing gum is the perfect embodiment of this area of consumer culture. The gum undergoes a metamorphosis when translated into marble, imbuing the final piece with an importance that is ordinarily reserved exclusively for that of classical iconography.

This project has been ongoing for some time and the final works represent the culmination of trying to achieve as close to perfect accuracy in the enlargement process as technology will allow.

After around 1,000 maquettes have been produced of the small gums, I select maybe four or five of them to be scanned using a CT scanner. These scanners are often used on archaeological digs to give precise replications of ancient objects.

I employ this technology to comment on how we evaluate and categorise what is important to us as a culture, and how these decisions might be counterbalanced by revisiting what we discard rather than what we raise up to be important and relevant.

These high-resolution files are then ‘scaled up’ in the virtual realm. The files are programmed into a six-axis robotic arm that routes them out of marble.

It is an uncompromising process that gives me total control without interference from model makers, fabricators or other subjective intermediaries – what I produce in the initial stages is identical to the final piece, only it is larger.

The banana skins are made in a similar way, only they are sculpted or collaged together when they are very small.

They are then scanned and printed using 3-d printers which produce a plastic version of the banana skin maquette.

They are moulded to create wax versions that are then investment cast into bronze. Again, it is essential that the scaled-up versions are exactly the same in form and texture as the original maquette, and are not adapted versions produced manually.

I want to use objects that are immediately to hand and that are already part of my daily life. These objects, for me, have to have been used in some form or another – usually they are discarded by the consumer without thought.

It is about giving a new life or importance to a ‘used object’.”

  • Alex Hoda: D-Construction is at Edel Assanti in London until October 26 2013.

More pictures:

A photo of a white marble sculpture made out of chewing gum on a plinth
© Courtesy Alex Hoda / Edel Assanti
A photo of a white marble sculpture made out of chewing gum on a plinth
© Courtesy Alex Hoda / Edel Assanti
A photo of a white marble sculpture made out of chewing gum on a plinth
© Courtesy Alex Hoda / Edel Assanti
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