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Lifes a bitch and then you die
Life's a bitch and then you die. Yeah, that's right. It's interesting to see Emmy Twigge deal with the subject of death, simply because her work traditionally deals with her own feelings of impotency, and, as anyone who has lost anyone knows, that's a feeling which needs some attention post-bereavement. But no, that's not the full picture, because what is really challenging to the freshly bereaved is their negotiation with the space between their power and impotency. Put more simply – the "what ifs?" of death. So like I say, it's fascinating for Twigge to be looking at this through a new body of work because she's already so deeply concerned with the "what ifs?" of life. In That's It (2008) Twigge's voice describes what will happen when we "enter the space" in which her (imagined) work is hung. So powerful is she that she can describe not only what we will see but how we will feel on seeing it. So impotent is she that she only presents a recording of her unexecuted imaginings. She journeys this space between power and impotency over and over. Drawings are made but what is exhibited is Twigge discussing them candidly with an artist friend (Every Home Should Have a Window Seat 2008). It's a candidly sophisticated now you see it now you don't, or rather, now you see me now you don't game. She constantly acknowledges and engages with her own sense of herself negotiating herself, and it's a struggle: a passive mouth opens to emit a spewed flame of emotion (Untitled 2008); inner selves are dragged from her (Untitled Drawing IV 2008); and when she films herself strapping a plaster bird to her back and making like she's flying, her palpable self consciousness seems to say "Why am I doing this?" (So I Did 2008). And why indeed? It's OK, we don't need an answer, but it's an ongoing question for an artist and not one that is often made visible, particularly with the keen urgency and genuine vulnerability with which it is in Twigge's work. And so with Did You Do It For The Art? already the question is posed. Why? Why did you do it? And implicit in this is Twigge's ongoing concern, Why? Why do I do it? Every piece in this collection of work acknowledges process and thus the artist's point of execution, the point at which her power is felt, the point at which she chooses to act becomes the subject matter. By recording that moment Twigge draws us to her own conflict. She tries to undo the already done, and King Canute-like does nothing but poetically demonstrate how we fight with our impotency. It's lovely, there's a tender loveliness to it. Gap (2009) is surely the epitome of this. Unpolished, jolting edits point clearly to the subject of the work – this artist set up a rail track in a studio and put a figure on it and filmed herself saving the figure from the oncoming train, over and over. This isn't about suicide, this isn't even about loss, it's about the actions of Twigge as an artist, her practice as her negotiation. As her negotiation with life? Yes to a point, but more readily her practice as her negotiation of her practice. Her practice becomes the container for her examination of practice, pleasing in an Escher staircase kind of a way. I wouldn't characterise it so much as layered, but it creates other realities within an acknowledged reality and so points primarily to the act of doing this rather than the result of doing this. For instance with Comic (2009) surely what is at the crux of this piece is that Twigge made this piece. She commissioned an illustrator to manifest what only existed in her head: an impossibility. And yet despite acknowledging that regret, grief and distress must exist behind this work, Comic cannot be about these emotions for me, I cannot even happily say it is about longing. For something in Twigge's style denies this and makes known only: Look at this, I did this. And look at this, I took a photo on my phone of how she left her living room, and look, I photographed the phone with the photograph on and I printed it and I exhibited it. Look what she did, look what I did. And look at what I didn't do. Life's a bitch.
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