Published by DESTE Foundation for Contemporary Art. Edited by Karen Marta, Massimiliano Gioni. Text by Linda Yablonsky.
Male and female, sex and violence, art and trash: the power of Tim Noble (born 1966) and Sue Webster's (born 1967) art lies in its fusion of opposites. Working collaboratively since the early 1990s, these key figures of the YBA movement infuse their materials--pulsating hearts, flowers, dollar signs and their vulnerable, naked selves--with the intensity of their personal relationship.
According to Sigmund Freud, young children are, by nature, "polymorphously perverse" and while their infantile sexuality is swiftly suppressed it is retained in their unconscious adult minds. Tim Noble and Sue Webster's new publication documents in beautiful detail their critically acclaimed site-specific project at the Freud Museum, which was nominated for the prestigious South Bank Prize in 2007. This includes one of their characteristic self- portrait shadow sculptures 'Black Narcissus', a plethora of silicone rubber casts of Webster's fingers and Noble's member in various states of arousal which was installed in Freud's study. There is also detailed documentation and analysis of their complex kinetic sculpture 'Scarlett' that was appropriately sited in the bedroom of Freud's daughter, Anna, the founder of child psychology. Created from modified children's toys and machine parts, 'Scarlett' utilises the actual workbench from the artists' studio, which they have used extensively over the past decade. Triggered by sensors the individual elements of this hybrid machine sculpture become animated to produce a dream-like cornucopia of repressed sexual and sadomasochistic fantasies and transgressions. The publication also provides a fascinating insight into Freud's theories and how they relate to art practice with critical essays from the distinguished American art historian Linda Nochlin and James Putnam who curated the original exhibition.Tim Noble and Sue Webster are known for magically transforming garbage into art. They sculpt piles of street rubbish, studio debris, and taxidermy animals into astonishing representations of life with "real" shadows of the artists themselves hovering over their accumulations of discarded objects. These abstract forms mysteriously reverse the abstraction into figuration. Noble and Webster have created a remarkable group of anti- monuments in their 11-year career, mixing the strategies of modern sculpture and the attitude of punk to make art from anti-art. Their work derives much of its power from its fusion of opposites, form and anti-form, high culture and anti-culture, male and female, craft and rubbish, sex and violence.