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Tim Noble and Sue Webster display an anti-conformist punk attitude, fusing high and low art to produce ironically seductive works. Forever is exceptional as it’s one of the earliest Light Sculptures in the artists’ body of work.
Originally commissioned in 1996 by a public arts organisation, it was installed on top of a bus shelter in London’s Tottenham Court Road, flashing brightly to illuminate the grey urban surroundings. Constructed using carnival lights, the bold form of the word Forever signifies advertising’s subliminal communicative power, whereas conceptually, the sculpture plays with notions of everlasting love. In 2002, it was purchased for $150,000 at auction by a private collector.
Working with the artists, Sedition brings this dazzling sculpture to life in a new digital format.
Tim Noble (1966, Stroud, UK) and Sue Webster (1967, Leicester, UK) met as Fine Art students at Nottingham Trent University in 1986, where they both arrived a day late for class. The artists have officially collaborated since 1996 and are associated with the post-YBA (Young British Artist) generation of artists. Noble and Webster’s artistic persona is intrinsic to the meaning of their works.
Their art can be separated into ‘Light Works’ and ‘Shadow Works’ formally; yet both these categories remain directly related. ‘Shadow Works’ consist primarily of sculptures incorporating diverse materials such as household rubbish, scrap metal and taxidermy animals; by shining light onto assemblages of the latter, they are transformed into highly accurate shadow profile portraits. In contrast, ‘light sculptures’ are made using computer-sequenced light bulbs that perpetually flash and send out messages of consumerism, love and hate — often simultaneously. These works reference the iconic pop culture symbols that are communicated through the mass media in Britain and America, as well as recalling the carnival shows and neon signage typical of working-class sea-side Britain, Piccadilly Circus, and Las Vegas. Punk music has been a strong influence on both Webster and Noble, who states: ‘I think anything that’s a bit of a rocket up the arse, anything that kicks against the routine, against the mundane things that close down your mind, is a refreshing and good thing. Punk did that very successfully.’ Webster was one of the six people shortlisted to host the 1980s cult music programme ‘The Tube’.
Since their first solo show in London, British Rubbish (1996), Noble and Webster have enjoyed international recognition. Their work is in the permanent collection of the Arken Museum of Modern Art, Copenhagen; Artis-François Pinault, France; Dakis Joannou Collection, Athens; The Goss-Michael Collection, Dallas; Honart Museum, Tehran, Iran; Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; National Portrait Gallery, London; The Olbricht Collection, Berlin; Project Space 176–The Zabludowicz Collection, London; Saatchi Collection, London; Samsung Museum, Seoul, Korea; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Publications of the artists’ work include Polymorphous Perverse, a catalogue of their Freud Museum exhibition (London: Other Criteria, 2008), and Wasted Youth, a comprehensive survey of the artists’ work from 1996 to 2006 with essays by Jeffrey Deitch and Sir Norman Rosenthal (New York: Rizzoli, 2006). Their most recent publication titled British Rubbish was published by Rizzoli in 2011. In 2009, Noble and Webster were awarded Honorary Doctor of Arts degrees at Nottingham Trent University in recognition of their contribution to contemporary British Art. Latest solo exhibitions were Turning The Seventh Corner, Blain Southern, Berlin, 2011; and Nihilistic Optimism, Blain Southern, London 2012.
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