(2017) DWP benefits papers, eggshells, ply, plastic, glue
Shown at Tate Modern as part of Tate Exchange for Shape Arts ‘Ways of Seeing’ exhibition, Feb 2017.
Fragile paper boats crafted mainly from benefits paperwork from the DWP sail on a sea of knife-edge-like eggshells. This piece tries to capture the instability and stress of life on benefits (both for those with disabilities and those without). From the fragility and sharp viscerality of the sea of eggshells which dissolve to mere fragments at the edge, to the paper boats which become progressively more distorted until they are merely scrunched-up paper, this piece explores the sense of fragility as well as futility of trying to build a life on benefits. This piece is less political than an emotional exploration of the tension inherent in the receipt of benefits – the very provision that you need to live and which demands your gratitude is also that which condemns you to a sense of disempowerment and inadequacy.
This is the second of my pieces about life on benefits. Dole Scum I is a performance piece, which involves the artist ripping up her benefits papers, forming them into little balls, and painstakingly lining them up on the gallery floor. This would involve genuine physical pain for the artist, which is inherent to the piece. Please contact me if you’re interested in hosting this piece in your space.