PROPOSAL FOR THE CAST COURTS OF THE VICTORIA AND ALBERT MUSEUM, LONDON, JUNE 2012

In March 2012 I was invited by the curators of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London to submit a proposal for an installation sculpture in plaster for a new gallery next to the Cast Courts. The following was my proposal:

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These sculptures begin with the modelling of 5 life masks which will then be cut in half horizontally below the nose. A selection of the top half of each face is paired with a selection of the bottom half of the other 4 faces forming a new mask that may be perceived/interpreted by the viewer as tragic or comical or something else.
Life masks and death masks have been traditionally used as a means of capturing and recording the genuine likeness of a subject. Typically, these masks are taken from persons of importance. Fidelity and “true likeness” are desired and expected. Perhaps by viewing this sort of likeness the viewer can gain insight, contact and intimacy/familiarity with the subject. This concept of copying the authentic is how I hope that my sculptures will address the activities and collection of the Cast Courts at the V&A.
Concepts of physical beauty and chance are addressed by the incongruent/mixed quality of my mask compositions. The viewer is made sensitive to age and gender and facial expressions as well as human physiognomy and socionics. They project from the wall like modern hybrid grotesques or chimeras. In this manner they reference architectural ornaments.
These sculptures are reconfigurations of faces. The traits and features might “feel” familiar to the viewer, evoking an echo of recognition and posing an enigma. The view of some of these sculptures through the portal of the San Petronio Basilica from Gallery 46B should intrigue and invite the visitor to enter and pass through the corridor of Gallery 33a. 
The assembling of one part of a face on another is intended to look awkward and constructed. This pieced-together quality draws attention to the fact that these are assembled 3-dimensional plaster objects, sensitizing the viewer to the idea that plaster casts are often put together in pieces. The “gigantic” scale of these faces reflects the monumentality of some of the remarkable sculptures in the museum’s collection.