Room guide: Scale

Sarah Lucas Pauline Bunny

Sarah Lucas
Pauline Bunny 1997

© Sarah Lucas

Marc Quinn, ‘No Visible Means of Escape IV’ 1996
Marc Quinn
No Visible Means of Escape IV 1996
© Marc Quinn

It is important to me that the objects displayed maintain their physical presence, that they hold their own power in relation to the viewer. I decided, therefore, to exclude miniatures – smaller-than-life-size statues, dolls, toys, figurines and the like – from the exhibition.

There are, however, some less-than-life-size objects that have an uncanny quality, even though its perception differs depending on the age and experience of the user. I would include stuffed animals, transitional objects, fetishes, and magical objects, such as Egyptian funerary sculpture, in this category.

Even though I am mostly interested in the relationship between the physical viewer and a three-dimensional object, I have included photographic documentation of objects in the exhibition. In part this is because many of the objects I wanted could not be borrowed, or no longer exist. But once photography was a part of the exhibition, I decided to include ‘art’ photography as well. In all cases I am treating photographs as documentation of figurative sculpture, including some for which this is not actually the case, such as Cindy Sherman’s photographs of medical demonstration models arranged into figures. Despite visual clues to the contrary, Laurie Simmons’s photographic tableaux of dolls, invite a reading of the figures as human-size, and as alive. For similar reasons, I have also included in the exhibition special effects objects produced for films.

Film special effects models are designed specifically to be seen only through the medium of film, and are often destroyed after – or in the process of – being used. This ‘hidden’ nature is part of their appeal. A strange corpse-like quality surrounds them… Divorced from the living entity for which they substitute, these ‘FX’ parts definitely have an uncanny quality… You realize that to experience the projected figures on the movie theatre screen as life-size involves the reduction of your own body to the size of a doll.