In this durational installation, a short-looped video is projected into a cut-out white shape of a frame taken from the painting An Allegory with Venus and Time (1754-8) by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo.
The image in the frame is of a hand reaching into blue water and there is a gentle movement of the sun-drenched turquoise water lapping over the hand which creates a strangely beatific moment set inside the image of this gold-gilded frame. The background of the work is created with wall paper from Cole & Sons, creating an overall kitsch display that oozes a kind of privilege.
There is a surreal effect that hints at some unattainable perfection, and a direct link back to Tiepolo’s depiction of Venus, the Roman goddess of love, desire and fertility and the symbolism of the shape of the frame itself.
But it begins to feel political, dressed in the fabric of the society that created it; the wall paper, the gilding, the luxury to make work at all. There’s a self-consciousness, my doubts summed up by John Baldessari before he found an altruistic justification for his work:
“I always had this idea that doing art was just a masturbatory activity and didn’t really help anybody…”[i].