Cornelia Parker

Mass (Colder Darker Matter) is the centerpiece of this exhibition. Presented as her featured work in the 1997 Turner Prize Exhibition at the Tate Gallery in London, this installation is constructed from the charred remains of a Texas church that was struck by lightning.

The artist had arrived in Texas for her Spring 1997 residency at ArtPace in San Antonio when she heard about an electrical storm that had destroyed a wooden church. “I went down and asked the Baptist minister if I could have the charcoal to make a charcoal drawing – which is what I consider this to be,” she told the critic Louisa Buck. “I like the way that all the emotion of religion and the drama of lighting can be distilled into a very simple, quiet piece where all I’m doing is presenting the charcoal…”

‘Cold dark matter’ is a scientific term used to describe the substance that exists in the universe, yet remains mysterious and unquantifiable.

Mass (Colder Darker Matter)

Pornographic Drawings, 1997
Ink made from dissolving video tape (consfiscated by H. M. Customs & Excise) in solvent. 61×61 cm

“I resurrect things that have been killed off… My work is all about the potential of materials – even when it looks like they’ve lost all possibilities.”

Pornographic Drawings

Aircraft Carrier, Shot by a Dime, 1995

“I am concerned with ambivalence, with opposites, with inhaling and exhaling, things falling and things rising, things disintegrating and coming together…with killing things off, as if they existed in cartoon comics, and then resurrecting them, so that one set of references is negated as a new one takes its place.”

Aircraft Carrier

(detail) left: Shirt Shot by a Pearl Necklace, 1995

(detail) right: Three Fathoms and a Thimble, 1997
Silver thimble drawn into wire and threaded through a needle.

Has this shirt been “killed-off?” The revenge of love scorned? And while it may seem that the prior meaning of ‘thimble’ is negated by transforming it into a wire, the artist uses that prior meaning to construct the amusing metaphor that results by threading it through a needle. What it WAS has a lot to do with what it now IS.

(detail): Measuring Liberty with a Dollar, 1998
Silver dollar drawn to a wire the height of the Statue of Liberty.

This exhibition relies heavily upon the titles to complete each piece. Without such descriptive information, the poetic intelligence of the work might remain obscured within the understated minimalism of its presentation. However, when taken together as intended, the message is at once poignant, funny, and knowing.

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