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Big Giving

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Published on Oct 1, 2008

The footage was shot inside Herald St Gallery in London. The gallery was turned into a fountain. In the installation "Big Giving", the water that spouts from the heads and limbs of several men and women, modelled on some of the artists friends, and stuck to chunks of lava-like blast furnace scoria, appear to perform various bodily functions: one spews, another urinates, one cries in streams, another gushes water from her armpit. The title refers to the Native American Potlach ceremony in which participants engaged in competitive gift-giving, a practice which reverses the accumulative logic of capitalism and one that missionaries sought to demonise. The sculpture, which has occupied outdoor public space in London, publicly commemorates bodily functions which when performed in public are deemed antisocial. The figures could also be said to enact an excessive feast or sacrifice of getting rid of oneself. Getting wasted, here, could be seen as a kind of Dionysian cleansing ritual, in the secular sense of a rave, for instance, whereby the self is overcome and annihilated.

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