Crazy Bat Lady 2018 is a large-scale photocopied and collaged self-portrait of the artist in black and white. The support is a shaped board almost three metres high and the image is based on a grossly enlarged photograph of Chetwynd aged thirty, taken by the artist’s mother. The original image has been manipulated to its present state, originally with the intention of using it as a press shot for media interviews. In Crazy Bat Lady the eyes have been re-photocopied and collaged onto the surface, giving the face a mask-like appearance, through which the eyes stare. A bat and a butterfly form the hair and an extravagant hat – the bat being a recurrent motif in the artist’s practice (see, for example, her series of bat paintings from 2014 and the more recent Bat 2018, in which a huge handmade bat with spread wings bursts out of a two-dimensional image into the space of the gallery).
Chetwynd was christened Alalia Chetwynd and raised as Lali Chetwynd, but has adopted a series of artistic names; from 2006 to September 2013 she worked under the name Spartacus Chetwynd, followed by Marvin Gaye Chetwynd from September 2013 to April 2018, before adopting the moniker Monster Chetwynd in April 2018. The overlaying images in Crazy Bat Lady reflects the layering of personas used by the artist and the work’s scale and stark contrasts reflect her interest in staging and scenery. Working in film, performance and sculpture, she draws on the history of folk plays and carnival, referencing – often in an irreverent manner – critical moments in cultural history. Chetwynd often works collaboratively with a group of artists and performers; as well as performing together, they will make props, costumes and film sets, some of which are later incorporated as relief elements into wall-based works such as Jesus and Barabbas (Odd Man Out 2011) 2018 (Tate T15103) and I Want to Be an Insect Protein Entrepreneur 2018 (Tate T15105).
Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, Bat Opera, Cologne 2014.
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