I am interested in the constantly evolving hierarchies of objects, styles and cultural worth. My work engages in dialogues about display and value alongside narratives of possession, ownership and cultural desire. My work seeks to respond to these narratives mainly through constructed spaces using models, miniature dioramas and computer-generated virtual interiors and objects.

 

In both private and public spaces, display functions to denote hierarchy and worth. From the private universe of the collector, to contemporary examples of the concept of Gesamtkuntwerk, my work experiments with these constantly evolving hierarchies of objects, and the way in which objects, artefacts and art are commodified and fetishised. The theme of decontextualisation is central to my work and I am particularly concerned with the way in which objects are represented in fragmentary ways, removed from their original context through classification systems, digital reproduction, appropriation, miniaturisation and displacement. Related themes include the idea of value and authenticity; copies, and reproduction; cross pollination of modernist art and decorative forms; the role of collecting (both private and institutional), and the tools of display including the plinth, framing, and the gallery itself.

 

Much of my early work (‘Deconstruction Construction Manual’, ‘Plaster Casts’, and ‘Museum’) was concerned with the idea of authenticity and representation. These works presented models including the plinth, the plaster cast, the vitrine and the miniature as a way to call into question the role of imitation and engender a dialogue about the way in which substitution effects narrative as well as concepts of value and authenticity. These themes were later expanded through a series of virtual rooms that included digital reconstructions of interiors that no longer exist and collections that have long since been dispersed (‘Horace Walpole’s Paper House’, ‘Goncourt’s Junk Collection’, ‘Sir John Soane’s Model Room’ and ‘Andre Breton’s Collectors House’). Initially influenced by the Novel ‘Against the Grain (A Rebours)’, in which JK Huysmans describes how the main character employs his collection to stimulate his imagination towards creating an ideal private universe or dreamworld, this series of works focused on how individual collectors use their collections and the private space of the interior to create what is essentially an ideal and illusionary universe or what Walter Benjamin called the ‘phantasmagoria of the interior’. These simulacrums of lost and idealised worlds investigated both the artificiality of value and served as a retort to the artificiality of narratives told in the context of display.

 

My recent work continues to focus on the sphere of the collector, and by extension, the decorative interior (‘Ornamental Fantasy’, ‘Abstract Expressionist Interior’, ‘Dada Interior’, ‘Utopian Bedroom Ensemble’, ‘Utopian Living Room Ensemble’ and ‘Icon’ series). Exploring the boundaries in the hierarchy and genre of art forms: e.g. the decorative arts versus fine arts and removed from the formal signifier of modernist art (the frame), these works consist of modern paintings that have become immersed in decorative schemes that symbolise the fate of paintings to become interior fixtures or commodities of sorts. These computer generated works not only question the transcendental claims of modernist abstraction and the authenticity associated with the painterly gesture but also the commodity status of paintings and the adsorption and transformation of fine art into consumables.

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© Keith Turner