An interview with artist Suzannah Pettigrew in anticipation for her new exhibition at Sang Bleu

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Suzannah Pettigrew is the multidisciplinary artist who will be showing her new work at Sang Bleu next week.  Pettigrew’s work explores themes of consumerism, digital identities and modern life and through this special exhibition it will see her take on these ideas in the form of a sculpture and video. We caught up with Pettigrew to find out more about her intentions behind the exhibition.

Still from: An Abstraction of the Anticipation of Intimacy (2014)

Still from: An Abstraction of the Anticipation of Intimacy (2014)

Can you explain to us the work you will be showing at Sang Bleu?

The exhibition will explore the ability to exchange autonomous utopias and the social impact that this has, particularly on intimate relationships. Selling ourselves – and each other – a fantasy of what we want, and how we want it and presenting it as a commodity. The works shown will be a series of videos and sculpture set in an installation.

How important is the physical space to your work and how do you hope to manipulate it for this exhibition?

I want the gallery to give the participant a sense of controlled isolation and detachment. When virtual reality and physical spaces merge it can allow the conditioned desire for the unattainable to be accelerated. Producing a constant feeling of anticipation that something else will arrive.

How do you feel your interest the digital has changed in the last few years? And how has this effected your work?

Digital communication has been a huge focus in my practice over the last few years. As my usage of digital platforms has grown, so has my interest in people’s digital visual dialogue. It’s encouraged me to explore with more digital mediums, such as video, whereas before I would work with more traditional techniques such as painting and screenprinting.

Are there any particular inspirations that have influenced the work you will be exhibiting?

Guy Debord’s writes of the social relationship between people that are mediated by images in The Society of the Spectacle.Although the book was first published in 1967, I found this relevant for our digitised generation. I began to think about my social relationships and how the images that I observe can have control over them and my behaviour within that space. I became more aware of how I communicate and the themes or archetypal behaviour that can be generated through digital communications. I saw the extent of how my interactions were conditioned by images and how we all deal with the modern world and the social exchanges we participate in.

My grandfather would create a series of paintings where the initial image of a detailed scene would become more and more abstract and the final form was just a linear representation. I started to relate this technique to how we can look at images and they can have infinite subjectivity. We seize and re-assign meaning and purpose to images and reality and it becomes so far removed from the initial intent that it becomes an abstract representation.

This can produce a feeling of isolation as so much is experienced in a singular format through a screen interface. We have the power to create fantasy worlds. You can get lost in your own utopia, becoming estranged from yourself and reality.

You have mentioned that you want your viewers to experience feelings of isolation and detachment, what is it about these emotions that interests you?

I’m interested in how I experience these feelings IRL and digitally. How they cross over and manifest and inform each other. Creating an installation for the works to exist within is important in order to try and manipulate a space to create a parallel version in reality of what I’ve experienced virtually.

What is your relationship between sculpture and video and how do you work between the both?

I aim to communicate (visually) the power struggle between reality and fantasy, and my visual perception of how they exist within the same sphere. Within the exhibition the two forms interact but take on different roles. Video = digital exchange. Sculpture = IRL interactions.

Find out more about Pettigrew’s work here and please join us for our private view this Thursday at Sang Bleu Contemporary Art and Project Space where the work will be on show all weekend.

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