Artist's Statement: Dominic from Luton talks work in New Order: British Art Today

Dominic from Luton interviewed by Mark Sheerin | 02 May 2013

Artist's Statement: Performer, photographer and sculptor Dominic from Luton talks Thatcherism, performance and growing up in the suburbs...

Colour photo of an artist next to a photo of a performance piece
Dominic from Luton beside one third of his triptych at the Saatchi Gallery© Culture24
“Basically I was asked to donate a piece of work for Transition Gallery in Hackney in 2011. That was the year the cuts really kicked in and the gallery was possibly facing closure. I was worried about the subsistence of artist-run spaces, so I donated a piece of work.

I asked if I could do something experiential, where the work seeks to speak about what’s going on in State Britain at the time.

So here’s a triptych of photographs of me, Dominic from Luton, dressed as Margaret Thatcher for a performance. There’s me in a public toilet in Hackney (in the two outer photos) and the middle one is me wheeling myself out in the wheelchair with a wig on post-performance.

I wheeled myself out of the toilet you can see on the left hand and the right hand and I wheeled myself into this small artist-run space. I wheeled myself into the gallery.

We had the classic air raid siren on a very loud PA system, almost deafening. And that stopped and I went into, basically, just spinning around to the sound of Thatcher’s "lady’s not for turning" campaign speech at the Tory party conference in 1987.

I almost went over in the wheelchair actually, which raised a few laughs. And then I wheeled out to my favourite bit of soundtrack, which was Tales of the Unexpected. And so I wheeled myself out and actually it was bloody freezing that night hence me looking pastier than I usually am.

My dad’s in a wheelchair, so the wheelchair that you can see is a wheelchair identical to one of his. I took a blowtorch to it, to distress it, just to unresolve it a bit, to un-wheelchair it, if there’s such a word.

I was brought up in suburbia in Luton where a lot of people were under the spell of Thatcherism. I was a kid in the 80s, the early-to-mid 80s, where it really was a case of "get on your bike", as Tebbit said.

I don’t want these works to sound overly politicised because they are as much a portrait of myself and my dad as much as anything else, and loads of stuff. You know it’s a bit of a cocktail of being from Luton, with a post-Thatcher influence or shadow on my family now.

From my selfish point of view, hopefully it invites you to relook at her policies, yeah, but I want these works to stand up on their own. Her death? Well, a woman’s dead. It’s almost irrelevant to me. I’m more interested in what she was doing when she was alive.”

  • New Order: British Art Now is at the Saatchi Gallery, London until June 30 2013. Read our Review.

Visit Mark Sheerin's contemporary art blog and follow him on Twitter.
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