Clunie Reid

Your Higher Plane Awaits


Not on display

Clunie Reid born 1971
60 digital prints on paper
Image, each: 840 × 1120 mm
Purchased with funds provided by the Brian and Nancy Pattenden Bequest 2011


Your Higher Plane Awaits 2010 is an installation of sixty black and white ink jet photo-collages printed onto shiny silver paper, which covers the whole gallery wall from floor to ceiling. The dimensions of the installation are variable, depending on the gallery space. Any number of the images can be installed, from a minimum of fifteen out of the sixty available. The glossy images are taken from a variety of sources including fashion magazines, advertisements, the internet and material from the artist’s studio. Some are overlaid with words written or scrawled with marker-pens. These are often slogans taken from advertisements, for example an advert for Sky (‘Grandma, what consistent speeds you have’) or the text from a London Underground poster (‘I am simple, I am coming soon’), or the artist’s own intuitive responses to the content of the original material. Her addition of hand-written text, produced in direct response to the content matter, interjects elements of the personal into otherwise often mundane material. In other instances, Reid uses the marker pen to censor particular elements within the image. The sheets are taped to the wall with black and white gaffer tape, the black margins of the tape dictating the way in which the eye scans and moves across the surface.

Your Higher Plane Awaits is typical of Reid’s wall-based installations in which she explores the immersive nature of contemporary visual culture. She weaves together her own photographs with imagery taken from found sources including advertisements, magazines, film and the internet to create intense photo-collages that explore how digital media affects the reading and understanding of imagery. Her works have an ambivalent status that interrogates the sources from which they spring, exploring the incessant barrage of images to which we are exposed on a daily basis, the impact of media and celebrity, self-image and idealisation, power and control. Each image may be copied, re-worked and re-photographed many times within Reid’s work. Furthermore, she deliberately employs cheap materials, such as gaffer tape and biro, in deliberate contrast to the often expensive-looking images she defaces.

The title Your Higher Plane Awaits is taken from a tagline advertising the Chelsea College of Art summer degree show in 2011. Reid has explained:

I found it interesting on a number of levels … it was a prime example of how advertising rhetoric invokes the transcendent and anthropomorphises states (that there’s a higher plane already existing and waiting for you). I saw the ‘higher plane’ as the sublime or transcendent, a familiar enough concept in contemporary art education, but that this concept had been instrumentalised and trivialised to represent the ‘higher plane’ of the students’ great success in the near future, guaranteed by their recent education.
(Email exchange between the artist and Tate curator Clarrie Wallis, 9 May 2011.)

In appropriating images from the media, Reid’s approach has much in common with artists of her own generation such as Mark Leckey (born 1964) and Seth Price (born 1973), whose work explores how the internet and digital technology have fundamentally changed the landscape of information and the notion of public space and how images are read. Reid’s approach is also reminiscent of artists associated with the punk aesthetic of the 1970s, such as Jamie Reid (born 1952) and in particular Linder (born 1954), whose work also directly engages with issues concerning sexual politics and contemporary culture. However, Clunie Reid’s wry sense of humour and the broad scope of her critique range from movie stars, models and pop princesses to the crass consumerism of contemporary culture. Her exploration of the overt sexuality of the media as well as the rhetoric of advertising and popular magazines prompts questions about how these images affect us and the fascination they exert over us. Paul Buck has written: ‘Her collages and assemblages can be seen to act as a rupture of adverts and promotions and their purpose, a rupture of images. They are intent on challenging us to see everything anew. She wants us to face up to the aggressivity and sexuality of our world of images.’ (Focal Point Gallery 2009, p.15.)

Further reading
Paul Buck, Andrew Hunt and Clunie Reid (eds.), Clunie Reid, ‘Out There, Not Us’, exhibition catalogue, Focal Point Gallery, Southend-on-Sea 2009.
Mark Sladen, Richard Birkett and Isla Leaver-Yap (eds.), Nought to Sixty, exhibition catalogue, Institute of Contemporary Arts, London 2009.

Clarrie Wallis
May 2011

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